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Thursday, 3 July 2014

From Today's Papers - 03 Jul 2014



























http://www.tribuneindia.com/2014/20140703/nation.htm#8
 New postings for top officers of IAF

SEVERAL postings involving the IAF top brass have come into effect. While Air Marshal PP Reddy has taken over as Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee, a triservice body headquartered in the Capital, Air Marshal Ramesh Rai has been appointed as the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the training command at Bangalore. Commissioned in June 1977, Reddy commanded a MiG-27 squadron and a fighter base in the Kashmir Valley. He has also served as the chief test pilot at Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment and air adviser at High Commission of India, London. Prior to this appointment he was the Director General (Inspection and Safety) at Air HQs. Rai, a Jaguar pilot of the December 1976 batch was earlier serving as the Senior Air Staff Officer at Central Air Command. He was commanding Air Force Station, Bidar when Hawk jet trainers were inducted. Reddy has been replaced by Air Marshal S Neelakantan, a fighter pilot of the December 1977 batch who had commanded the IAF contingent in Congo as part of UN Peace Keeping Mission in 2006-07. Air Marshal Anil Khosla of the December 1979 batch who has commanded a Jaguar squadron and Jaisalmer and Ambala airbases, has taken over from Rai. He specialises is maritime air operations.
Recalling the battle for Tiger Hill
It was on July 4, 15 years ago that India won its most significant victory in the Kargil conflict – the Capture of Tiger Hill. Described by many as the turning point of the 1999 border conflict fought on the icy heights along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, the battle was also among the costliest in terms of casualties during the entire operation to regain control of territory occupied by Pakistan. Tiger Hill, or Point 4660 is the highest peak in the Mushkoh-Dras-Kargil axis and overlook a wide swath of area along the Srinagar—Leh National Highway, including strategic military installations like the 56 Brigade Headquarters. Three infantry battalions – 18 Grenadiers, 8 Sikh and 2 Naga were involved in the attack. With the Nagas on the left flank, the Sikhs on the right and the artillery providing support fire, the Grenadiers launched their assault from the rear after scaling steep cliffs in the dark. By early morning the peak had been captured after heavy fighting. Hav Yogendra Yadav of the Grenadiers was decorated with the Param Vir Chakra, one of the four awarded during the conflict.

Veterans issue legal notice over OROP

Irked over non-implementation of the One Rank, One Pension (OROP) scheme four months after its announcement, ex-servicemen have served a legal notice to the Ministry of Defence, the three Service Chief and the Principal Controller of Defence accounts, demanding the scheme be implemented within a month, failing which they would move the appropriate court of law. The notice served by Chandigarh-based All India Ex-servicemen’s Welfare Association points out that apart from the former finance minister’s interim budget speech, the President and the newly elected Prime Minister have, in their respective address to Parliament, reiterated the government’s commitment to implement OROP. However, despite promises by top dignitaries and several meetings chaired by the defence minister and appropriate orders being passed, OPRP has not been implemented.

Nubra Warriors mark 27th anniversary

Deployed in one of the world’s harshest operational environment, the IAF’s 129 Helicopter Unit, the Nubra Warriors marked its 27th anniversary on July 1. The unit is among the IAF and Army Aviation outfits that provide logistic support to troops deployed on the world’s highest and coldest battlefield, the Siachen Glacier. The unit was raised at Hindon in 1987 on Mi-17 helicopters and within six days ferried five aircraft to Sri Lanka for Operation Pawan, carrying out a total of 1987 sorties. Immediately on return, it was tasked to deploy at Thoise in Ladakh for Operation Meghdoot. It was the first Mi-17 unit to undertake convert to armed support role with retrofitted rocket pods. Besides air to civil authorities for anti-terrorist operations and flood relief missions, it also participated in the Kargil conflict, carrying out rocked attacks on enemy positions in Tololing.




http://www.tribuneindia.com/2014/20140703/nation.htm#9
 Emotional intelligence test a must for IAF aspirants, says study
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 2
Research undertaken at the Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM) has recommended that assessment of emotional intelligence be made an integral part of the screening and selection process of candidates aspiring to join the IAF.

This will help the IAF recognise the potential aviators at the entry level, allocate fighter, transport and helicopter streams and adopt suitable training programmes to improve occupational performance.

The research states that the demands for excellence in piloting skills, physical health and psychological adaptability have become even more stringent and the emotional expression for survival and adaptation to flying career has become crucial.

Emotional intelligence has been defined as the ability to perceive and express emotions, assimilate in thought, understand and reason the emotions and regulate it in the self and others. It also involves the ability to regulate one’s emotions to use them to make good decisions and to act effectively.

The IAF selection process for pilots includes personality and psychological assessment besides pilot aptitude tests and medical examination. The research at IAM, undertaken by four specialists, involved 60 trained IAF pilots with an average age of 30 years who were assessed on well-being, self-control, emotionality and sociability. These factors affect the decision-making process.

Test and findings

    60 trained IAF pilots were assessed on well-being, self-control, emotionality and sociability
    It was found that emotional intelligence affects decision making
    The test will help the IAF recognise the potential aviators at the entry level





http://www.tribuneindia.com/2014/20140703/nation.htm#15
 Army Chief in China for 4 days

Beijing, July 2
Indian Army Chief General Bikram Singh arrived here today on a rare visit to China, the first by an Indian Army Chief in nine years, aimed at bolstering high-level strategic communication and mutual trust between the two militaries.

During his four-day visit, General Singh would hold talks with top officials in the People’s Liberation Army and meet Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchao tomorrow. The visit is of great significance as it contributes to healthy and steady development of Sino-India relations as well as the ties between the two armed forces and create a good atmosphere, the Chinese Defence Ministry said in an e-mail response to a questionnaire from PTI.

Relations between the two armies and the regional security situation will come up for discussion during General Singh’s visit. — PTI 




http://www.tribuneindia.com/2014/20140703/edit.htm#4
Dealing with Pakistani Taliban
Government, military differences surface
G Parthasarathy
When Nawaz Sharif was first elected to power in 1991 one expected that, unlike Benazir Bhutto, he would have a cosy relationship with the Army establishment. He had, after all, been brought into politics and patronised by Gen Zia-ul-Haq. He was voted to power as part of an Islamist alliance put together and funded by Gen Aslam Beg and the ISI chief, Lieut-Gen Asad Durrani. After having an uneasy relationship with his first Army Chief, Gen Asif Nawaz, Sharif was unceremoniously thrown out of office by the succeeding Army Chief, Waheed Kakkar. In his second term, Sharif forced his first Army Chief, Gen Jehangir Karamat, to quit for suggesting the constitution of a National Security Council. He was then deposed by General Musharraf following differences over who should take the responsibility for the Kargil fiasco.

Nawaz Sharif now has an uneasy and indeed hostile relationship with his present Army Chief, Gen Raheel Sharif. The attack on the Indian Consulate in Herat was executed just on the eve of the arrival of Nawaz Sharif in New Delhi. It drew international attention as having been executed by Lashkar-e-Taiba with the backing of the ISI. It is no secret that for two generations Hafeez Mohammed Saeed has been patronised by the Sharif family. The attack was a message to the world, to India and to Mr. Sharif himself that even Hafez Saeed was a creature of the Army establishment. It is self-evident that the sponsorship of terrorism in India and in Afghanistan is managed by Raheel Sharif and not Nawaz Sharif.

Sharif’s present differences with the military have arisen earlier than in his previous two terms. Within a year these differences escalated over the house arrest and trial of General Musharraf on charges, including his suspension of the Constitution. When the Sind High Court cleared the way for Musharraf to leave the country, Sharif immediately responded by an appeal to the Supreme Court. Any conviction of Musharraf would not only reduce the stature of the Army nationally and internationally, but also serve as a deterrent to future coups -- something the Army would just not tolerate. To add insult to injury, Nawaz Sharif backed the influential Jang group in its tirade against Army excesses in Balochistan together with a campaign against the ISI for allegedly attempting to kill its star TV anchor Hamid Mir. The Army responded with a programme of vicious intimidation of the media.

Nawaz Sharif and the Army also have serious differences on measures to deal with Tehriq e Taliban Pakistan (TTP). With political and parliamentary backing, Sharif decided to commence dialogue with the TTP and a ceasefire was put in place. The Army was unhappy as it sought to wreak revenge for the “cardinal sin” of the TTP in killing a Major General. While negotiations between the TTP and the government interlocutors were under way, the Army engineered an escalation of tensions with the TTP, compelling Nawaz Sharif to end the negotiations. Even before Sharif could make a formal announcement, the Army proceeded with a massive assault in North Waziristan, using air power (F 16 fighters), artillery and mechanised infantry. It is evident that the targets of the military wrath are exclusively the TTP and their Uzbek and Uighur allies. Predictably, the Haqqani network has been spared as they remain allies of the Pakistani military to destabilise and overthrow the government in Kabul.

Around 500,000 hapless Pashtuns have fled to the neighbouring tribal areas in the wake of the military offensive. To add insult to the injury, these Pashtuns have been denied entry into the Punjab and Sind provinces, where they could find refuge and employment. More than 70,000 Pashtuns have also fled to the neighbouring Khost and Paktia provinces of Afghanistan. Sharif sent Pashtun leader Mehmood Khan Achakzai to meet President Karzai and discuss the border situation amidst allegations by the Afghan government of violations of its borders by the Pakistan Army. In a letter to Nawaz Sharif, President Karzai has reportedly insisted that he would cooperate with Pakistan’s ongoing military operations only if Pakistan targets all terrorists without discrimination, ends shelling of Afghan territory and joins him in coordinating anti-terrorism efforts with “important regional nations like India and China”.

The impact of the army's onslaught in North Waziristan has been described vividly by Rustam Shah Mohamand, a Pashtun, who was earlier Pakistan's Ambassador to Kabul and Interior (Home) Secretary. Rustam Shah noted that instead of attacking positions held by the TTP, the Army "ordered all towns — densely populated settlements — to be vacated, forcing hundreds of thousands of civilians to move out, not knowing where they would be headed. The order was preceded by relentless air bombardment and a non-stop curfew on towns and villages. The civilians who perished in the bombardment by fighter jets had to be buried after funeral prayers". Mohamand's comments portray only part of the misery and suffering of hundreds of thousands of hapless Pashtun tribals, women and small children, fleeing to safe havens across the tribal areas.

Nawaz Sharif's leadership is also being challenged, at the instigation of the Army, by rivals like Imran Khan, Shujaat Hussain, Pervaiz Elahi and the dubious cleric, Tahirul Qadri. In his second year, the hapless Nawaz Sharif already appears to be in no position to check the Army's links with terrorist groups operating against India and Afghanistan. He would, however, retain some authority to promote economic, trade and energy cooperation with India. President Karzai has clearly spelt out in writing what he expects Pakistan should do on terrorism and dialogue with Afghanistan. India should do likewise, and propose hosting a trilateral breakfast meeting of the leaders of India, Afghanistan and Pakistan at the next SAARC Summit. To get Raheel Sharif involved, India could propose subsequent meetings of the Army Chiefs of the three SAARC countries to discuss and finalise measures to end cross-border terrorism.




http://www.tribuneindia.com/2014/20140703/edit.htm#6
Enactment and scope of Article 370
Adarsh Sein Anand
With the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India, jurisdiction in matters of external affairs, defence and communication was transferred to the Government of India and Union Parliament was given power to make laws for the State for the purposes of those three matters only. The Union Parliament had no jurisdiction in any other matter. Sovereignty, insofar as the internal administration of the state was concerned, remained with the ruler.

This was as provided for by Clause 8 of the Instrument of Accession: "Nothing in this Instrument affects the continuance of my sovereignty in and over this State, or save as provided by or under this Instrument, the exercise of any power, authority and right now enjoyed by me as Ruler of this State or the validity of any law at present in force in this State."

Instrument of accession

Unlike those from the other States, Kashmir’s representatives made it clear that Kashmir’s association with India would be based ‘only’ on the terms of the Instrument of Accession.

The Constitution of India laid down provisions not only for the former provinces of British India but also for the other princely States as full-fledged constituents units of the Union. In the case of Kashmir, it had to make special provisions to cover that particular case.

The basis of the constitutional relationship of Jammu and Kashmir with India was being changed from that created by the Instrument of Accession to the position under Article 370 of the Constitution of India.

The temporary nature of Art. 370 arises merely because the power to finalise the constitutional relationship between the State and the Union of India had been specifically vested in the Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly.

The internal administration of the state was even after its accession being governed by the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution Act, 1939.

At the time of their accession, it was made clear to all Indian States that their internal autonomy would be safeguarded and they would not be obliged to accept the Constitution of India. But whereas other Indian States lost their independence by supplementary instruments and by agreeing to the settlement of their constitutional position and powers by the Constituent Assembly of India, Kashmir chose to remain a unit of the Indian Federation only on the terms and conditions specified in the Instrument of Accession. The State, if it chose to assimilate its status to that of other Indian States, could do so by a supplementary instrument signed by the Sadar-i-Riyasat (the elected head of the State) on the recommendation of the State legislature. This legal position was set at rest by the Supreme Court of India in the case of Prem Nath Kaul v. the State of Jammu and Kashmir (AIR 1959 SC 749) wherein it was observed:

"We must, therefore, reject the argument that the execution of the Instrument of Accession, affected in any manner the legislative, executive and judicial power in regard to the Government of the State, which then vested in the Ruler of the State."

Again, the Supreme Court of India in the case of Rehman Shagoo v. State of Jammu and Kashmir (AIR 1960 SC 1) said: "When certain subjects were made over to the Government of India by the Instrument of Accession, the State retained its power to legislate even on those subjects so long as the State law was not repugnant to any law made by the Central Legislature."

States’ constitutions

In 1949, the Indian Constituent Assembly was coming to the end of its task. The Government of India conferred with the States, and it became obvious that the subjects of the States desired their Constitutions to form part of the Indian Constitution. A large number of Indian States had been represented in the Indian Constituent Assembly from the beginning and had taken part in the framing of the Constitution. During the drafting of the Constitution of India till 1949, the State of Jammu and Kashmir did not take any part in the debates as it had no representative in the Constituent Assembly. Since Jammu and Kashmir had acceded to India legally and factually, at the suggestion of the Government of India, the Yuvraj, in June 1949, on the advice of his Council of Ministers nominated four representatives to the Indian Constituent Assembly.

Unlike those from the other States, Kashmir's representatives made it clear that Kashmir's association with India would be based 'only' on the terms of the Instrument of Accession. "It was also made clear that, while the accession to the extent of the subjects enumerated in this Instrument, the autonomy of the State with regard to all other subjects outside the ambit of Instrument of accession should be preserved."

Under Clause (7) of the Instrument of Accession, the State did not commit itself to the acceptance of any future Constitution of India, nor fetter its discretion to enter into agreements with the Government of India under any such future Constitution. Despite the accession, the state was still to be governed by the old Constitution Act, 1939. This was because the Government of India had given an undertaking that the people of Kashmir could frame their own Constitution. (Constituent Assembly debates, Vol. X, No. 10, p. 422) The state had voluntarily surrendered three matters only to the Union of India and, therefore, the Government of India could not enlarge the sphere of its jurisdiction unilaterally.

The Constitution of India laid down provisions not only for the former provinces of British India but also for the other princely States as full-fledged constituents units of the Union. In the case of Kashmir, it had to make special provisions to cover that particular case. This was explained by Sri Gopalaswami Ayyangar, who moved the Bill for that purpose in the Indian Constituent Assembly. He said, "At present the State is a unit of a federal State, namely the Dominion of India. This Dominion is getting transferred into a Republic, which will be inaugurated on the 26th January, 1950. The Jammu & Kashmir State, therefore, has to become a unit of the new Republic of India".

During the debate Ayyangar said that the relationship of all States with the Government of India, till India became a Republic, was based on the Instrument of Accession and supplementary Instruments. But whereas in the case of other Indian States "Instruments of Accession will be a thing of the past in the new Constitution" — the States have been integrated with the Federal Republic in such a manner that they do not have to accede or execute a document of Accession for becoming units of the Republic — "it would not be so in the case of Kashmir", since a part of "that particular State is still in the hands of the enemies" and in the second place, "…the Government of India have committed themselves to the position that an opportunity will be given to the people of the State to decide for themselves," the nature of their constitution. (Constituent Assembly Debates Vol. X, No. 10, p 422)

Drafting of Article 370

After this clarification by Ayyangar, the question of drafting Article 370 (Art. 306-A in the Draft Constitution) was considered. "In these negotiations it was made perfectly clear by the State Government that it was for the Constituent Assembly of the State to frame the Constitution of the State and that for any provision that may be made in the Constitution of India regarding Kashmir, the basis should be the 'Instrument of Accession' and till the Constituent Assembly of the State consented to accede in any other subject to the Union, the relationship between India and the State should be limited to the subjects specified in the 'Instrument of Accession'."

The Constitution of India was soon to come into force, so it was necessary to take steps for the enforcement in Kashmir of the provisions of the Indian Constitution as applicable there. Legally, the power to issue a proclamation for this purpose vested in the Ruler. So the Yuvraj, acting on the advice of his Council of Ministers, issued a proclamation on November 25, 1949, to the following effect:

"Whereas with the inauguration of the new Constitution for the whole of India now being framed by the Constituent Assembly of India, the Government of India Act, 1935, which now governs the constitutional relationship between this State and the Dominion of India will stand repealed.”

"I now hereby declare and direct that the Constitution of India shortly to be adopted by the Constituent Assembly of India shall, insofar as it is applicable to the State of Jammu and Kashmir, govern the constitutional relationship between this State and the contemplated Union of India and shall be enforced in this State by me, my heirs and successors in accordance with the tenor of its provisions.”

"That the provisions of the said Constitution shall, as from the date of its commencement, supersede and abrogate all other Constitutional provisions inconsistent therewith which are at present in force in this State." (White Papers on Indian States, Appendix LIV page 371)

It is obvious that the basis of the constitutional relationship of Jammu and Kashmir with India was being changed from that created by the Instrument of Accession to the position under Article 370 of the Constitution of India. This Article covered the case of Kashmir only and gave Kashmir a special status in that the provisions governing the relationship of other Part B states did not apply to it. Article 238 (Article 211 in the Draft Constitution) which governed the relationship between Union of India and other Part B States was not to apply to Jammu and Kashmir.

Exclusive to Kashmir

The Constitution of India came into force on the January 26, 1950. Article 370 was to cover the case of Kashmir alone. "In view of the special problem with which the Jammu and Kashmir Government is faced, we have made special provisions for the continuance of the State with the Union on the existing basis," declared Sardar Patel, the then Home Minister, in the Indian Constituent Assembly.

Article 370, it was explained by Sardar Patel, was a device to continue the existing relationship of the Jammu and Kashmir State with the Union of India. It has been described as a "temporary provision" in the Constitution. This expression has given rise to a lot of debate about the scope of Article 370. The temporary nature arises merely because the power to finalise the constitutional relationship between the State and the Union of India had been specifically vested in the Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly. The Constitution of India clearly envisaged the convening of a Constituent Assembly for the Jammu and Kashmir State and also provided that whatever modifications, amendments or exceptions that might become necessary either to Article 370 or to any other Articles in the Constitution of India in their application to Jammu and Kashmir were subject to the decision of that Assembly.

Therefore, the 'temporary' provision does not mean that the Article is capable of being abrogated, modified or replaced unilaterally. "I would like to make it clear," declared Sheikh Abdullah in the Kashmir Constituent Assembly, "that any suggestions of altering arbitrarily the basis of our relationship with India would not only constitute a breach of the spirit and letter of the Constitution, but it may invite serious consequences for a harmonious association of our State with India." (Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly Debates Vol. IV No. 1-3 dated 11th August, 1952)

Nothing irregular

Jammu and Kashmir became an integral part of India after the execution of the Instrument of Accession. Therefore, Clause (1) (c) of Article 370 provides for the application of Article 1 of the Constitution of India, which defines the territory of India. The State was shown in the Constitution as a Part B State, but the provisions of Article 238, which generally governed the relationship of Part B States with the Union of India, were not applicable to this State. This might appear extraordinary, but it is not irregular, for unlike the other Indian States, Kashmir did not accept the application of the Indian Constitution in its entirety and had not executed any further Instrument, unlike the other Indian States. The Supreme Court of India opined that:

"The effect of the application of the present article (Article 370) has to be judged in the light of its objects and its terms considered in the context of the special features of the constitutional relationship between [the] State and India. The Constitution makers were obviously anxious that the said relationship should be finally determined by the Constituent Assembly of the State itself…." (Prem Nath Kaul vs. the State of Jammu and Kashmir, AIR 1959 SC 749)

According to Clause (1) (c) of Article 370, the only Articles of the Constitution of India which applied of their own force to the State were Articles 1 and 370; Clause (1) (d) provided that the other provisions of the Constitution of India applicable to the State could be determined by the President of India in consultation with the Government of the State. Exceptions and modifications could be made in the same manner and the provisions could be enlarged too. "Power to modify includes a power to enlarge or add to an existing provision," held the High Court of Kashmir in the case of Sant Singh v. State, (AIR 1959 J & K 35), where the question was whether the enlargement of the provisions by the Government of India in consultation with the Government of Jammu and Kashmir.

Therefore, the term 'temporary' has been used in Article 370 so as to minimise the difficulty in the way of the amendment of the Constitution of India, whenever the necessity arises to modify or extend the scope of other provisions of the Constitution of India.

Laws for J&K

As a matter of fact, in exercise of the powers conferred by Article 370 (i) (ii), the President of India has issued a number of Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) orders from 1950 onwards applying various other provisions of the Constitution of India and the laws enacted by Parliament to the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The first such order was made in 1950, which was superseded by the 1954 order. There have been almost 45 amendment orders to the 1954 order till date applying various other provisions of the Constitution of India to the State.

A part of the territory of Jammu and Kashmir continues be under enemy occupation. That was one of the factors debated in the Constituent Assembly of India while enacting Article 370. As I have said above, it is by virtue of this Article that many provisions of the Constitution of India have been extended to the State of Jammu and Kashmir from 1950 onwards. More provisions may be extended by the President of India in consultation with Jammu and Kashmir. That is within the scope of Article 370 of the Constitution of India and the Supreme Court of India has said so in absolute clear terms.




http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/standpoint-30-days-on-why-does-india-still-not-have-a-full-time-defence-minister-1999077
30 days on, why does India still not have a full-time Defence Minister?
The Narendra Modi led BJP won a decisive mandate in the recently concluded election cycle and surpassed even its own wildest dreams when it won 282 seats - a number which went higher with its allies in the NDA. In his campaign, Modi had promised a decisive shift in the way the country was governed. He had been a strong critic of the previous UPA government led by Manmohan Singh. In various speeches he articulated his strong views on many issues, especially those pertaining to national security. He lambasted the UPA government for its tepid response to Pakistani infringements of the ceasefire at the Line of Control and of Chinese incursions into Indian territory. The Sangh Parivar and its political arm, the BJP have long criticised the Congress for not being committed enough to a robust national security policy. They have argued that a BJP government would reverse it to a more muscular national security outlook, thereby giving a decisive shift to India’s posture on matters of defence, especially those related to our neighbourhood.

The verity of this belief of the BJP and its Prime Minister Narendra Modi is debatable. But what cannot be debated is the necessity of a good, strong, capable defence establishment for any strong nation. It was therefore surprising to see that the newly inducted cabinet led by Modi does not have a full time Defence Minister in its midst. Arun Jaitley, the Finance Minister was given the additional charge of the Defence Ministry till a full time minister took charge. Currently, Jaitley is totally preoccupied with his first budget to pay any serious attention to matters of national security. Thus while taking charge, Jaitley suggested that a full time Defence Minister was likely to be appointed in two weeks time. Its been more than a month since.

The Defence Minister is a crucial cog in the state’s apparatus. He (or she) not only handles routine matters related to the defence of the nation but also gives shape to the strategic directions of the government in matters of national security. He provides civilian leadership to the armed forces and helps synergise strategic objectives with operational capabilities of the forces. There are weapon systems and platforms to be bought and myriad other issues which need a long-term vision that only a Defence Minister can provide. For a new government it is one of the most important strategic positions, more so when such a government is led by a Prime Minister who had strongly criticised the previous government’s defence policy.

While Jaitley may do the bare minimum to keep things moving at the Defence Ministry, it is unlikely that he will be able to provide any strategic inputs to our national security set-up. He neither has the time from his primary task of finance minister nor does the Defence Ministry and services believe that he is going to be their boss for long. His inability to handle tricky situations as a hands-off Defence Minister became evident when another minister in Modi’s cabinet attacked the designate Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Dalbir Singh Suhag. It was a shameful incident which conspicuously brought out the absence of a full-time Defence Minister. Can India, with a volatile neighbourhood, afford such a lackadaisical approach? This is a question that hasn’t been asked of Modi yet.

As with the formation of any new cabinet, Modi’s cabinet too has been surrounded by chatter regarding various positions. Various sources have claimed that Arun Shourie was Modi’s choice for the position of defence minister. But his name was vetoed by Modi’s minders at the RSS. If true, this shows a callous disregard on part of the Sangh Parivar for the defence of the nation which India cannot afford. If Modi was convinced about the suitability of Shourie for this position, then he, riding a wave of public popularity and with a thumping electoral mandate, should have gone ahead with his choice.

Then again, if not Shourie, why not someone else? What has prevented Modi from appointing a full time Defence Minister more than one month after he was sworn in? A closer look at BJP’s ranks gives you the answer. A Defence Minister requires both a strategic vision and administrative acumen, and none in the ranks of the BJP seem to meet the criteria.

Reports of skirmishes with Pakistan at the Line of Control have become routine since the the new government took office. Chinese incursions have taken place in various sectors while they have issued a new map which shows Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin as Chinese territory. The troops at the border are ably led by the officers, but they also need the reassuring political leadership of a defence minister behind them to give them confidence. India lives in a neighbourhood that is currently in turmoil, with a nuclear-armed Pakistan fighting the jehadis as NATO forces start to drawdown from Afghanistan.

Modi should realise that in order to secure our defences, we need a full time Defence Minister. Defence is a matter which cannot be handled part time by ministers, no matter how senior they are. When it comes to national security, India expects more responsible behavior from the new Prime Minister. There can be no excuses.

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