Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Wednesday, 30 April 2014

From Today's Papers - 30 Apr 2014

 Allow Sikhs to serve in US army: US-Indians to Defense Secy Hagel

Washington, April 29
Sixteen influential Indian-Americans from across the country have asked US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to allow Sikhs to serve in the armed forces with their religious faith intact.

"As entrepreneurs and community members dedicated to advancing issues important to the Indian-American community and strengthening ties between the US and India, we respectfully request that the US Department of Defense modernise its appearance regulations so that Sikh-Americans can presumptively serve in our nation's military while maintaining their articles of faith," 16 Indian-Americans wrote in a letter to Hagel.

According to the copy of the letter dated April 25, which was provided to PTI today, the Indian Americans - all of whom are major fundraisers and wield considerable influence in the nation's political circle - praised the recent efforts of 105 bipartisan members of the US House of Representatives, who recently had also sent a letter to Hagel expressing their support for Sikh-Americans in the US armed forces.

That letter was led by Congressman Joseph Crowley, who co-chairs the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans, and Rodney Frelinghuysen, who chairs the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

"The importance of this issue to the Indian-American community is underscored by the fact that the Government of India issued a statement supporting the effort. As you know, our NATO allies already permit Sikhs to serve," the letter, which was signed by Shekhar Narasimhan, Ranvir Trehan, Shefali Razdan Duggal, Rajeev Sharma, Parag and Usha Saxena, Reshma Saujani, Frank Ismail, Raj Goyle, Anju Bhargava, said.

Among other signatories to the letter are -- MR Rangaswami, Mahinder Tak, Sunita Leeds, Aneesh Chopra, Vinod K Shah and Parag V Mehta.

"We wanted our Sikh-American brothers and sisters to know that, at the very least, the Indian-American community stands with them and while it may be seen as symbolic, their cause is our cause," Narasimhan said.

In the letter, the Indian-Americans said for more than a century, immigrants from India have strengthened and enriched America, even after overcoming obstacles. — PTI
 Soldiers injured on leave entitled to benefits: SC
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
Upholding a judgment of the Chandigarh Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), the Supreme Court has ruled that soldiers injured while on duly authorised leave are entitled to grant of disability pension.

The Tribunal’s judgment was challenged by the Central government in the Supreme Court. The apex court dismissed the civil appeal observing that there was no infirmity in the conclusions reached by the Tribunal.

In November 2011, the Tribunal’s Bench comprising Justice Ghanshyam Prashad and Lt Gen HS Panag had, after discussing various Supreme Court judgments in favour of and against the proposition of grant of disability pension to soldiers injured during leave, held that disability pension would be entitled to such persons when the injury was not due their own fault and when they were not engaged in a militarily inconsistent activity.

Disposing a case where a soldier was injured in a road accident, the Tribunal had concluded that it was its duty to give a beneficial interpretation to such social welfare schemes and policy had to be interpreted liberally since roads were now flooded with vehicles while the rules were originally framed in 1950 and that otherwise it shall lead to grave injustice to soldiers who defend the frontiers.

The Tribunal had also observed that while civilians were retained in service on incurring disabilities, defence personnel could be discharged. It observed that if military personnel could not be retained they must be adequately compensated for being thrown out on account of disabilities so that they could meet their own and their families’ basic needs.

The issue of denial of benefits to disabled soldiers and tendency of the defence ministry of filing multiple appeals against disability pension to disabled soldiers in the SC, was also raised in the Parliament in August 2013 by several MPs.

Experts dealing with the subject state that it was only in India that defence personnel were not paid any kind of monthly pension on being discharged on non service-related disabilities whereas the services of disabled civilians were protected and they were entitled to pay and allowances till superannuation and pension thereafter.
Former Air Chief NAK Browne is Norway envoy
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, April 29
The Centre today named Air Chief Marshal (Retired) NAK Browne as India’s next Ambassador to Norway. Browne would take up his new assignment shortly, the External Affairs Ministry said in an announcement which is also bound to upset mandarins at the Foreign Office.

He succeeds RK Tyagi. ACM Browne, also known as ‘Charlie’ Browne, was chief of the IAF from July 31, 2011 to December 31, 2013.

The government had two years back appointed former Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma as the High Commissioner to Canada, courting a controversy. The then External Affairs Minister SM Krishna had proposed the name of senior diplomat Basant Gupta for the post but the PMO ignored his recommendation and appointed Verma. Before this, another former Navy Chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta was appointed as the High Commissioner to New Zealand.
India: Urgent Defense Reforms Needed
    On April 2, India’s outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, told a conference that: “As a responsible nuclear weapon state that remains committed to non-proliferation, India supports the idea of a nuclear-weapon-free world because we believe that it enhances not just India’s security, but also global security.”

    Less than a fortnight later, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), largely expected to lead the next government, sprung a surprise by declaring in its election manifesto that it will “study in detail India’s nuclear doctrine, and revise and update it to make it relevant to [the] challenges of current times.”

    That was a surprise, because India’s 15-year old nuclear doctrine that decrees “no-first use” of nuclear weapons was put in place by the last BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government. If the BJP indeed comes to power and then delivers on its promise, it would mark a major shift in India’s nuclear policy.

    Tweaking or changing the course of India’s nuclear doctrine will surely alter India’s foreign policy too. The challenge for the new government will be to balance India’s own national interest with the current – and fast-changing – geopolitical situation in Eurasia.

    The outgoing United Progressive Alliance government has had a mixed record on strategic issues. It vacillated between unusual firmness on some issues (the Devayani Khobragade affair with the U.S. for example) but was erratic in dealing with China and Pakistan and sent out mixed signals in its interactions with other smaller neighbors like Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Maldives, Nepal and Bangladesh. In several instances, New Delhi failed to deliver on promises made to its neighbors, often putting the local leaders in those countries in awkward positions. For instance, New Delhi, despite its best intentions, could not fulfill two major promises made to Dhaka on concluding a land boundary agreement and sharing the waters of the Teesta river. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina faced a major political embarrassment at home because of New Delhi’s failure to keep its word.

    With Colombo too, India swung between two different positions during the vote against Sri Lanka in the UN Human Rights Council, and paid the price by losing considerable ground to China in terms of influence with the island nation. New Delhi’s failure to calibrate events in the Maldives is also seen as a setback for its own clout in the region.

    India’s next prime minister – and everyone believes Narendra Modi will be the man, post-May 16 – will need to step up and reboot foreign policy as a priority if India is to regain the influence it had acquired at the turn of the century and even during the first term of the UPA, but which was frittered away by its ineffectual leadership since 2010.

    However, a greater challenge awaits the new prime minister. The Indian military is in shambles not least because it is stuck with a largely 19th century mindset, is mostly armed with 20th century weapons, but has a 21st century ambition. The stark mismatch, topped by a risk-averse Defence minister, has left India’s military forces at their lowest ebb in decades.

    Two years ago when a letter written by the then Army Chief Gen VK Singh to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh found its way into the media, there was much outrage and anger over the state of Indian Army’s preparedness. “The state of the major (fighting) arms i.e. mechanised forces, artillery, air defence, infantry and special forces, as well as the engineers and signals, is indeed alarming,” the General wrote to the prime minister. The army’s entire tank fleet is “devoid of critical ammunition to defeat enemy tanks,” while the air defence system is “97% obsolete,” he wrote. The infantry is crippled with “deficiencies,” while the elite forces are “woefully short” of “essential weapons.” Singh has since joined the resurgent BJP and is hoping to win a seat in parliament when results are declared on May 16.

    Since then, urgent steps have been taken to improve the deficiencies in some areas, especially in improving the stock of fresh ammunition. Still, many critical shortages remain unaddressed. For instance, the Army’s light helicopters are more than 40 years old; it has not bought new artillery guns since 1987; it is also short nearly 600,000 hand grenades. The list is endless.

    The Indian Navy, too, is short of conventional submarines. Its fleet of diesel-powered submarines is down to a single digit. Submarines in production in Indian shipyards are at least four years behind schedule. The Indian Air Force is down to 33 squadrons of fighter jets against the required strength of 39 squadrons. Its eight-year-old plan to purchase 126 new combat jets is yet to come to fruition, although a contract negotiating committee is currently talking to French manufacturer Dassault Aviation and hopes to ink a mammoth 15 billion dollar deal as soon as the next government gives it the green light. Even then, the first lot of 18 aircraft will enter service only in 2017, and only then if the contract is signed before the end of 2014.

    Acquiring critical weapons platform is but one of the facets of defense management. India has been found to be woefully inadequate in reforming its higher defense management structure. A combination of bureaucratic lethargy and cumbersome systems topped by a timid minister has weakened the Indian military alarmingly. The biggest hurdle in the Indian military’s quest for rapid modernization has been the country’s defense minister AK Antony. As a politician concerned solely with preserving his squeaky clean image, Antony has time and again put his personal obsessions above national interest.

    His record as India’s longest serving Defence minister (he’s held the post since October 2006) is a clear testimony to this. During his tenure, Antony has already barred or blacklisted half a dozen major international defense firms at the first hint of wrong doing and bribery and has cancelled contracts in the very last stage of the process leaving the three armed forces to battle with shortages and obsolescence.

    And so the three services continue to suffer. The new government and its leader will have to urgently press the reset button to put defense modernization on the fast track, equipping the Indian military with the teeth it needs required teeth to match India’s ambitions to become an important regional if not global player.
Retired deputy army chief N S Malik slams UPA government
Retired deputy chief of the Indian Army Lieutenant General N S Malik claimed here today that the security and integrity of the nation is not safe under the UPA government.

Malik, who is the BJP's national security cell convener claimed that India's defence preparedness is not upto the mark under the Congress-led UPA government.

Malik who is here to seek votes of ex-servicemen for Visakhapatnam Lok Sabha BJP candidate K Haribabu said that there is a need to modernise defence services including the air force and the navy.

Recommendations of the C Subrahmaniam Committee appointed by the NDA government after the Kargil war was not implemented by the UPA government, he said.

He said that during his recent election meetings Narendra Modi had promised to solve ex-servicemen's problems once the BJP comes to power at the Centre.
Solemnity marks cremation of Major
 Chennai on Monday bid an emotional farewell to Major Mukund Varadharajan. The 32-year-old officer, who laid down his life “in the most gallant manner in the finest traditions of the Indian Armed Forces” fighting extremists in Kashmir on Friday last, was cremated at the Besant Nagar crematorium.

The atmosphere at the crematorium, where the final rites were performed, was solemn with his parents, wife and their young daughter, accepting the condolences of officers, Ministers and people from various quarters. The coffin was draped with the Tricolour with his beret and battle gear uniform placed atop. The cremation was done with the full military honours, a spokesperson from the Ministry of Defence said.

Fourteen soldiers fired 42 rounds in the air as a mark of respect to the officer as bugles were sounded in line with the Army tradition.

Young people from across the city, including school and college students, assembled at the crematorium early in the day to pay their respects. Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy called on the officer’s parents and wife at their home later in the evening on Monday.

Expressing his condolences, Governor K. Rosiah, in a letter to the Major’s father Raghavachari Varadharajan, said the death of Mukund Varadharajan was a great loss to the Army.

Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan conveyed his condolences to the bereaved family and termed the loss irreparable.
Army undertakes major exercise along western front to hone combat skills

India may be raising a new mountain strike corps to counter China’s build-up of military infrastructure and capabilities all along the Line of Actual Control but it continues to hone its combat skills on the western front with Pakistan as well. A major exercise, codenamed ‘Sarvada Vijay’ (Always Victorious), is currently underway in the deserts of Rajasthan with the overall aim being to practice conventional cross-border thrusts into enemy territory.

With a large number of tanks, infantry combat vehicles and howitzers deployed, the exercise involves the Mathura-based I Strike Corps with some support elements. “Army chief General Bikram Singh will be visiting the Suratgarh area to review the exercise later this week,” said a source.

After Operation Parakram in 2002, which exposed operational gaps and the slow troop mobilisation along the border, India reorganised the Army formations along the western front to ensure the capability to deliver a more effective lethal punch if required.

This involved the creation of the South-Western Command (SWAC) in Jaipur in 2005 as the 1.18-million strong Army’s sixth operational command. While I Strike Corps falls under SWAC, the other two such “attack” formations are II Corps (Ambala) under the Western Army Command at Chandimandir and XXI Corps (Bhopal) under the Southern Army Command in Pune.

But with the focus for long being on a land battle with Pakistan, it is only over the last few years that India has belatedly turned its attention to China. So, while the three existing strike corps are largely geared towards Pakistan, the Army in 2009-2010 raised two new infantry divisions (1,260 officers and 35,000 soldiers) at Likabali and Missamari (Assam) for the “defence” of Arunachal Pradesh.

Now, India has begun raising the new mountain strike corps – the XVII Corps with its headquarters at Panagarh in West Bengal — to add some much-needed “deterrence” to the “dissuasive posture” against China. It will give the Army, virtually for the first time, some “rapid reaction force” capability to launch a counter-offensive into Tibet Autonomous Region in the event of a Chinese attack.

The XVII Corps is to be fully raised over the next seven years with around 90,000 soldiers at a cost of around Rs 64,700 crore. Apart from “integral units”, the new corps will have two high-altitude infantry divisions (initially being raised at Panagarh and Pathankot), two independent infantry brigades, two armoured brigades and two Para-Special Forces battalions, spread across Ladakh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim.

This is deemed critical to counter China’s “aggressive” strengthening of its military capabilities along the LAC, including at least five fully-operational airbases, an extensive rail network and over 58,000-km of roads in Tibet. This allows China to move over 30 divisions (each with over 15,000 soldiers) to the LAC, outnumbering Indian forces by at least 3:1 there as of now, as earlier reported by TOI.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

From Today's Papers - 29 Apr 2014

 Pak troops violate ceasefire again
Open fire on Indian post in Keri sector of Rajouri dist
Shaym Sood

Rajouri, April 28
The Pakistan army resorted to unprovoked firing on an Indian forward post in the Keri sector of Rajouri district this morning. A similar truce violation was reported in the Shahpur sector of Poonch district on Saturday.

The incident cannot be termed an infiltration bid as the troops didn’t notice any movement of militants in the area. A grenade was first thrown on the targeted post around 7 pm yesterday and it was followed by an exchange of small arm fire for a few minutes.

Defence sources said the Pakistan army resorted to unprovoked ceasefire violation in the Keri sector using small automatic weapons around 5.15 am today. Indian troops retaliated and the firing went on till 6.30 am.

“Our troops returned the fire using similar caliber weapons. There was no loss of life or property on our side,” said Lt Col Manish Mehta, Jammu-based defence spokesman.

It was the fourth truce violation in Rajouri and Poonch districts by the Pakistan army this year. Sources said more than 150 fully equipped militants had been waiting at forward launching pads to get a chance to sneak into the Indian territory.

“Their every effort has been foiled by the Indian troops so far and there was a remote possibility that any infiltration attempt may succeed in Rajouri and Poonch districts,” sources added.

The entire Line of Control in both districts is being looked after by Rajouri-based Infantry Division. Its GOC has been directed by the higher authorities to deal with any situation by taking spot decisions, sources said.
 Five Navy men held for molestation
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, April 28
Five naval personnel based in Mumbai were arrested early Sunday morning for allegedly molesting a woman at a suburban pub.

The police said the incident happened at the Hawaiian Shack pub in suburban Bandra where the woman accompanied by her husband and a friend were dancing. They were accosted by the five men who misbehaved with the woman, the police said.

The five have been identified as: Maheshwar Mahendra Singh (26), Tirthlal Dilpanath (25), Ashish Jai Kishan (29), Shyam Bhandare (29), and Chandan Mishra (26). All of them are class IV-level officers of the Indian Navy attached to the electronics department.
The ‘curriculum vitae’ of a soldier
Col IPS Kohli
Every year a large number of officers are put out to pasture by the armed forces even when they still have a few working years left in them. The reason is well known. I too became a 'supernumerary' recently and was honourably placed on the superannuated list. With the umbilical cord severed, there is a sudden vacuum in your daily routine. With nothing to do and nobody to bullshit, you end up getting on your wife and children's nerves.

I needed work to keep myself busy. Usually, soldiers in civilian jobs are like square pegs in round holes. However, there are many who have excelled in the vocation they chose post retirement.

I searched the job portals but found nothing that suited me. Somebody advised me that there are agencies in Gurgaon to whom you send a detailed resume about yourself and after charging a certain fee they make a suitable 'curriculum vitae'. This CV, when put on the net, facilitates placement. This 'curriculum vitae' business was something new to me. In the Army we call it 'Service Particulars'. A womb-to-tomb account of your deeds and misdeeds. This document, precise, to the point and devoid of any frills could make one look no different from his or her true self.

I downloaded the forms and made the resume as good as I could and sent it to the agency in Gurgaon. While filling the forms I felt a sense of pride at some of the things I did or had been associated with while in service. With credentials such as mine, I had no doubt that job offers would come aplenty.

One day I received a call from the agency to which I had applied for making my 'CV'. The bimbo who called tried to sound more important than she actually was, and tried to make me feel a bigger fool than I actually am. 'Sir, we have received your mail and it's making no sense to us at all. All your military assignments, courses, postings and operations etc you participated in are of little or no use to the corporate sector. We would like to know that due to your contribution and presence, how much was the increase in the production and as a consequence of that the increase in the profits of the organisation?'

I admit I have a short fuse. I replied, 'Sweetheart this is a Colonel of the Indian Army you are talking to and not a shop floor manager of a bloody factory. The only production I have ever been associated with is the birth of my three lovely children. A soldier's skill lies in causing destruction and not production and we do it in an extremely disciplined and organised manner. There is a method to our madness unlike you jokers who can do nothing right. Design the damn CV accordingly'.

I remain jobless and pass my time doodling.
Politics divides Indian Army

New Delhi,Apr 27 (TruthDive): Indian Army has never before been caught in a succession battle with a retired Chief of Staff spearheading the NDA opposition to the scheduled appointment by UPA.

A senior office has moved the apex court against the appointment. Involved is General V K Singh who is a BJP candidate and who has just stepped down as Chief of Army Staff. Singh had a spat with Defense Ministry on his date of retirement among many things.

For the first time, Indian Army was dragged to court by a Chief of Staff. Singh wants to stall the promotion of General Suhag to the top post as he had taken disciplinary action against the officer during his service. Secondly if the appointment is delayed by one month, BJP will be deciding and it means V K Singh. Among those in line for the top post is Singh’s daughter’s father- in- law is just incidental.

BJP moved the Election Commission to stop the government saying the appointment is done two months before retirement of Army Chief but UPA is going ahead and there are three months to go. BJP knows that Defense Minister A K Antony is going to thwart V K Singh’s game plan.

The Election Commission has overruled the BJP’s objection. Now, Swamy of BJP has written to President of India about the move of UPA to appoint a Chief to Indian Army in haste. The Defence Ministry has completed the process of succession and on May 1 the elevation of Suhag to Indian Army Chief post is expected.

Current Indian Army Chief General Bikram Singh is fighting his former Chief for going ahead with ministry to appoint Lieutenant General Dalbir Singh Suhag. If Suhag misses the post, then Southern Army commander Lt Gen Ashok Singh will be in line. V K Singh’s daughter is the wife of Ashok’s son is yet another interesting fact.

Top Indian Army commanders were in New Delhi and posed for group photographs with the outgoing Indian Army Chief to present a picture of unity. V K Singh had asked CBI to probe Suhag’s purchase of parachutes but as Indian Army-instituted inquiry had cleared him, the agency did not go ahead.

V K Singh’s successor General Bikram Singh removed the promotion ban and Lt Gen. Suhag’s became Vice Chief of Indain Army in 2012. General Bikram Singh’s succession to top post was not without controversy as an NGO moved a court about a fake encounter in Kashmir. The NGO sources’ statement is backed by Indian Army’s military intelligence in Kashmir.

There is a court case filed by Ravi Dastane, a senior Lieutenant General and he claims it is his turn to be the Indian Army Chief. This stance is supported by V K Singh and he says that his relative is not in the running and that in service itself he could have taken action on Suhag, if he had wanted.

British army dog awarded bravery medal for work in Afghanistan
PDSA awards 'animals' Victoria Cross' to Sasha the labrador for helping save lives by detecting explosive devices

A British army dog that helped save lives by finding explosive devices in Afghanistan is to be awarded a posthumous medal by the animal charity PDSA.

Sasha, a four-year-old labrador, was killed along with her handler, Lance Corporal Kenneth Rowe, in a Taliban ambush in July 2008. The two were shot dead while on patrol from a remote base in Helmand province.

The PDSA Dickin medal, to be awarded in May, was introduced in 1943 and is regularly described as the animals' Victoria Cross.

Lance Corporal Rowe's mother Lyn welcomed the award: "Kenneth always adored animals and loved working with his dogs. He took his role protecting his fellow soldiers very seriously. We are so proud of him and he would be incredibly proud that Sasha's bravery is being recognised."

Rowe was with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, attached to the 2nd Battalion of the Parachute regiment.

Sasha is credited with 15 finds, detecting explosive devices as well as mortars, mines and other weapons.

The PDSA director general, Jan McLoughlin, said: "We are extremely proud to be awarding a posthumous PDSA Dickin medal to military working dog Sasha, which is the highest award any animal can receive for lifesaving bravery in military conflict."

"Sasha's exceptional devotion to duty in Afghanistan saved many lives, both soldiers and civilians."

The award will bring to 65 the number of Dickin medals awarded to animals in war: 29 dogs, 32 second world war messenger pigeons, three horses and a cat.
New army chief Lt General Dalibir Suhag's appointment runs into controversy
In a fresh controversy into the appointment of new army chief, a writ petition has been filed in Manipur high court against army personnel including naming Lt General Dalibir Suhag, who is the front-runner for the post of army chief.

A petition filed in the Imphal high court by the family member of one of the Manipuri youth, who were allegedly killed by the military intelligence unit in Dimapur in March 2010. Bodies of three Manipuri youth were found in Dimapur on March 25, 2010. Army has denied its involvement in the killing and claimed it happened due to "inter-group rivalry."

The petitioner has mentioned that when the local police requested the Dimapur-based 3 Corps to co-operate in the investigation as fingers were being pointed towards the intelligence unit of the same Corps, the then Corps Commander Lt General Dalbir Suhag refused to cooperate with the police investigation citing protection under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

However, the army has denied any involvement of Lt General Dalbir Suhag, as he was not Corps Commander at the time of the incident.

"The killing took place because of inter-group rivalry. Army had carried out a detailed investigation but nothing was found against army personnel. And at that time, 3 Corps Commander was Lt General NK Singh not Lt General Dalbir Suhag. Suhag took over as 3 Corps Commander in March 2011," said a senior army officer. Interestingly, General VK Singh, who has accused the government of appointing next army chief in haste, was the Eastern Army commander when incident happened.

However, the then Army chief Gen VK Singh had imposed a discipline and vigilance promotion ban on Lt General Dalbir Suhag in May 2012. General VK Singh placed him under the ban on charges of "abdicating responsibility" in handling an intelligence and surveillance unit under his command in Dimapur-based 3 Corps for what was dubbed as a "botched-up intelligence operation." However, the ban was revoked by General Bikram Singh within a week of his taking over as the army chief.

It is notable that a similar type petition was filed in the J&K high court for alleging involvement General Bikram Singh in a fake encounter, as an attempt to derail his appointment as chief of army staff. Petition was filed weeks before General Bikram Singh was slated to be designated as the successor of General VK Singh in May 2012.

Meanwhile, despite stiff resistence from opposition, the Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-II is all set to go ahead with the appointment of next army chief.

According to top sources in the government, the ministry of defence has completed the procedural requirement for the appointment before sending to the Appointments Committee on Cabinet headed by the prime minister.

"All requirements have been completed including assessment reports from the Intelligence Bureau, CVC and CBI. Very soon, the file will move to the prime minister's office for approval," said an officer. The ministry of defence has already got clearance from the Election Commission considering appointment as routine administrative matters.

The BJP has approached the Election Commission and the President for restricting government for making appointment of next army chief.


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal