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Tuesday, 8 July 2014

From Today's Papers - 08 Jul 2014

SC: Lt Gen Suhag can take over as Army Chief
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 7
The Supreme Court today cleared the way for Lt General Dalbir Singh Suhag to take over as the Army Chief on August 1 by refusing to stay his appointment. He will succeed General Bikram Singh.

A Bench comprising Justices TS Thakur and AK Goel said it did not find any valid reason for staying the appointment as the Centre had defended Lt General Suhag’s elevation, contending that he fulfilled all the criteria for the post.

The Bench was hearing a petition filed by Lt General Ravi Dastane, alleging that the government had deliberately favoured Lt General Suhag by ignoring material facts against him, including the disciplinary and vigilance (DV) ban slapped on him in April 2012 by the then Army Chief General VK Singh.

Appearing for the Centre, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said Lt General Suhag stood discharged from all charges and the ban was no longer in place.

Earlier, the Defence Ministry had filed an affidavit, terming the disciplinary proceedings initiated against Lt General Suhag as “premeditated, vague and illegal.”

General VK Singh, who is now a minister in the NDA government at the Centre, had initiated the action against Lt General Suhag for his alleged “failure of command and control” while carrying out an intelligence operation when he was Dimapur-based 3 Corps Commander.

Lt General Suhag’s appointment had been announced by the UPA government, just days before demitting office. The new Defence Minister Arun Jaitley subsequently clarified that his elevation was acceptable to the NDA government and there was no question of any rethink.

The NDA government was, however, not happy with the Defence Ministry’s strongly-worded affidavit, embarrassing General VK Singh who had to face calls for his resignation from the ministry for questioning the integrity of the Army Chief-designate.

The controversy

* Lt General Ravi Dastane had filed a petition in the Supreme Court accusing the government of favouring Lt General Suhag

* He had claimed that material facts against the officer had been ignored, including disciplinary and vigilance ban on him by former Army Chief General VK Singh

* SC Bench ruled that it did not find any valid reason for staying the appointment since he fulfilled the criteria for the post.
Sikh Regiment teams to scout for Punjab youths
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
As the Army moves ahead with the raising of a new strike corps to counter China, it is apparently facing difficulties in getting the right material for the rank and file from Punjab.

This, sources said, has put a question mark over new infantry raisings from the state. To deal with the situation, the Sikh Regimental Centre has proposed to depute two-man teams in various districts to conduct training capsules to motivate, train and orient youngsters to join the Army. Intake into the armed forces from Punjab, both for officers and troops, had seen a fall over the decades.

The Sikh Regiment, which draws its troops from Punjab as well as the Sikh community in Jammu and Kashmir, has projected about 7,000 vacancies recently. This includes making up for annual wastages and new raisings.

Brig Manjit Singh (retd), Director Defence Services Welfare, Punjab, said each team would comprise an instructor from the Army Education Corps and a physical training instructor, who would conduct six-week recurring training programmes. The teams would be attached with Sikh battalions.

The problem of drug abuse in the state, declining physical standards, dismissal state of education and the craze among the Punjabi youth for going abroad are some of the reasons cited for the problems being faced in recruitment. Many candidates are unable to clear physical tests or meet the educational standards.

"It is not that youngsters are not coming up to join. There are more then 50 candidates for a single, but the problem is getting that one person," Brig IS Gakhal, former Commandant of the Sikh Regimental Centre said. There are instances when the centre has been taking in troops over and above the state's recruitment quota because vacancies undersubscribed by some states are passed on to other states, he added.

Sources said approximately 3,000 persons from Punjab join the armed forces annually, though this number varies each year depending upon vacancies. In light of the new raisings, the intake would be much high in the next two-three years. Besides the Sikh Regiment, the Sikh Light Infantry, Punjab Regiment as well as several armoured and artillery regiments draw their recruits from Punjab.

A corps comprises about 25 infantry battalions in addition to other units from other arms like armoured corps, artillery, engineers as well as support services and logistic elements. The number of new raisings being allocated to various regiments is different.

It is not just the rank and file, but also the officer cadre where the decline in intake from Punjab is significant. In the batch of officers that passed out from the Indian Military Academy last month, Punjab ranked eighth.

Bravehearts gone astray

* The Army is facing difficulties in getting the right material for new strike corps from Punjab

* Intake into the armed forces from the state has witnessed a fall

* Drug abuse, declining physical standards and craze among the Punjabi youth for going abroad to blame

* The Sikh Regiment has projected about 7,000 vacancies
 Army Chief row: Time for both sides to move on
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 7
With the Supreme Court today declining to stay the appointment of Lt General Dalbir Singh Suhag as the next Army Chief, it’s now time for the Chief-designate to put behind the legal, emotional and politically-inclined hurdles he has faced in the past two years and lead the 1.2 million strong Indian Army.

It’s also time for those baying for Lt General Suhag’s blood to think about the larger good of the Army. The force move on the credo ‘Naam, Namak, Nishan’ — honour, loyalty and the flag — and sullying the ‘Naam’ of the Chief may not be the right idea with things getting tense in Pakistan and threatening to boil over in Afghanistan.

The multi-pronged questioning of Suhag’s succession is on since it was clear that he would be the next Chief to succeed present incumbent General Bikram Singh on July 31.

In the entire two-year episode that started in May 2012, the fraternity of Army veterans was divided sharply in their opinion. Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and his predecessor AK Antony showed sagacity in countering what was clearly a morale-lowering period for the Army — which as a force sees the Chief as the last word, the final authority, the man who will look after their welfare and lead them to battle. “It’s always ‘our Chief’ when we address the top man,” explained a serving officer.

Jaitley was firm when General VK Singh (retd), a former Chief of the Army and now a minister in the Narendra Modi Cabinet, had yet again raised the matter last month.

“As far as the government is concerned, the appointment is final and the government fully stands for it,” Jaitley said with tone of finality in Rajya Sabha on June 11.

Two separate incidents started it all. The first occurred in March 2010, when three decomposed bodies were recovered in Dimapur, Nagaland. At that time, Lt General Suhag was posted in New Delhi as a Major General. General VK Singh was the Eastern Army Commander, while Lt General NK Singh was the 3 Corps Commander. An inquiry, led by a Brigadier, found no substance in the allegations of a fake encounter, leading to the closure of the case.

The second occurred in December 2011 at Jorhat, Assam, when an intelligence unit head by Capt Rubina Kaur Keer was blamed of dacoity. Lt General Suhag was then the 3 Crops Commander. The Army inquiry punished the guilty in this case.

In line of fire

    The Supreme Court on Monday declined to stay the appointment of Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag as the next Army Chief
    The multi-pronged questioning of Suhag's succession is on since it was clear that he would be the next Chief to succeed present incumbent Gen Bikram Singh on July 31
India Reworks Defense Licensing Categories

NEW DELHI — India has made major changes in its defense production policy that will enable foreign manufacturers to set up production in India without going through the cumbersome process of seeking licensing.

Under the changed policy, several defense products will no longer require licensing from the Defence Ministry. Only procedural approvals to set up any ordinary industrial unit will now be required for these products. Obtaining licenses for products is a cumbersome process involving security clearances.

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) announced on June 26 that it had removed several defense items from the compulsory license list, but it is not clear how many. The list of defense products that will require licensing has been reduced to only four sections.

The move to de-license several defense items is the first major move by the new Narendra Modi government to help boost the domestic defense production base, as more production units will be set up. However, there is lack of clarity among domestic firms and analysts over whether the new notification will allow 100 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) by overseas firms to produce the select list of defense products for which license is no longer required.

MoD officials declined to answer questions that would clarify the ambiguity.

The new compulsory license categories are now:

Tanks and other armored fighting vehicles.

Aircraft, spacecraft and parts.


Arms and ammunition and allied items of defense equipment and their parts and accessories.

The items removed from the compulsory license list are: computers, avionics, software systems, infrastructure development, combat management systems, engineering services including validation and design, wire harnesses, avionics design, civil aerospace castings and forgings, surveillance suites, training services including simulators, bullet proof jackets and vehicle armoring, weather radar and display systems and components.

“The list [of de-licensed items] notified by the DIPP essentially covers platforms, weapons and equipment. However, most of the sub-assemblies, parts and components have been done away with,” said Sujith Haridas, deputy director general at domestic industry lobbying agency Confederation of Indian Industry. “This means that small and medium enterprises [SMEs] will be the biggest beneficiaries.”

Mrinal Suman, retired Indian Army major general and procurement expert, said it will help the defense industry. “With most items not needing license, entry for industrialists, including foreign investors, will be easy. As a matter of fact, it is another way of allowing 100 percent FDI in such items.”

Amit Cowshish, retired MoD finance adviser and defense analyst, said “As per my understanding, it does not automatically mean that anyone can bring in 100 percent FDI, or even 49 percent, and start manufacturing items not on the list.

“As per the FDI policy, the cap in the defense sector continues to be 26 percent,” he added. “I am of the view that government will have to amend the FDI policy to say that FDI up to whatever limit it wants to stipulate will be allowed for manufacturing items not on the list of defense items now notified.”

Rajinder Bhatia, CEO of private sector defense major company Bharat Forge, is also not clear about the percent of FDI to be allowed and said the MoD must clarify the issue.

A senior executive from the private sector defense major Larsen & Toubro, who requested not to be quoted by name, agreed. “However, theoretically speaking, the de-licensing would mean that the de-licensed products can be manufactured without the any further MoD or DIPP approval,” the executive added.

The domestic defense industries have welcomed the move to de-license several defense products. “This move will also help foreign OEMs harness frugal manufacturing by medium and small manufacturing enterprises working in niche technology and products to also expand offset relationships erstwhile restricted for participation due to cumbersome licensing procedure and requirements,” said the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, a lobbying agency.

“The move [to de-license some defense items] would also help to maintain a fair balance between addressing genuine security concerns and promoting India’s defense industry,” Haridas said. “Given the opportunity, this industry has the potential to become a huge foreign exchange earner for the country and also lead India to its professed goal of self-reliance.”

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