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Monday, 28 July 2014

From Today's Papers - 28 Jul 2014

 Centre allows women to lead Army units
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 27
The Ministry of Defence has approved a proposal of the Army to allow women officers to command their units, a move that will bring them on a par with their male counterparts. The decision is applicable to women who will join as fresh recruits in 2015 and beyond.

The PTI adds that the government is planning to file an affidavit in the Supreme Court in this regard, highly placed Army sources said here.

The women officers would be given some relaxation in terms of physical standards but otherwise they would have to go through same regimen as male officers, the sources said.

Women, who are allowed permanent commission in select streams, had been demanding that they be allowed to command their units. The Army has chosen aviation as one of the streams in which women could be inducted and allowed to command.

In the IAF, women have been flying helicopters and transport planes. Engineers and signals branches are likely to be opened up for them soon.

Women will get to command units some 12 to 14 years down the line as this move will apply to those who join in 2015.

The women officers were first inducted in the early 1990s and have been now cleared to join the force as permanent commission officers in select branches such as legal, ordnance and supply. Women were allowed in medical arm of the forces even before the Independence.
Decision to benefit those joining in 2015
 Women will get to lead units some 12 to 14 years down the line as this move will apply to those who join in 2015
They will be trained on the same pattern as their male counterparts
The women officers were first inducted in the early 1990s and have been now cleared to join the force as permanent commission officers in select branches such as legal, ordnance and supply.
 LCA Tejas delayed further, to miss Dec deadline
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 27
India’s indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), the Tejas, projected to replace the ageing Soviet-era MiG 21 fighter jets, has got delayed yet again – this time for six months or so.

The December 2014 deadline for the final operational clearance (FoC) has been put on hold as around 1,700 parametres still need to be validated before the plane is inducted into the Indian Air Force.

These 1,700 parametres — all vital for creating flight manuals and laying down specifics of the single engine plane — just cannot be completed within the next five months, top sources confirmed. The Ministry of Defence expects that the tests will be completed by the middle of 2015 and only then can clearance be given to fly these planes be given.

The tests are being conducted at the National Flight Test Centre (NFTC) of the Aeronautical Development Agency which has been supplied with half a dozen limited series production of the Tejas for carrying out the tests. These planes do some 30 sorties a month which are studied and analysed before moving onto the next step. The test for full integration of the warplanes weapons package and its electronic warfare suite besides the networking to enable pilots to log onto the IAF dedicated net.

In the meantime, the manufacturers of the Tejas — Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) — a Ministry of Defence-owned public sector undertaking, has sought more time to start supplying the jets. The first of the ‘production series’ planes was to be delivered to the IAF in July this year, however, this deadline has been pushed to September, sources confirmed, adding that at least two should be delivered by the year-end.

The IAF on its part has informed the MoD that it will raise a squadron of the planes once it has at least 5-6 of the jets and the remaining can be added in stages. A squadron is normally 18 planes. The HAL has a capacity to produce eight of the Tejas per year. The IAF ordered 40 of the first lot of Tejas Mark-I – that is two squadrons and some war reserves. With these numbers, the IAF wants the HAL to ramp up capacity and increase it to at least 14 planes per year.

Sources said the MoD has moved a proposal that will entail infrastructure cost sharing by the IAF, the HAL and the Navy – the HAL is also making a Naval variant and developed a prototype for operations on the sea-borne aircraft carriers.

The initial operational clearance (IOC) for LCA Mark-1 was received in December last year and India has spent nearly US $4 billion (about Rs 24,000 crore) – not much as these are niche technologies. The Mark-I of the plane is powered by the US company General Electric GE 404 engines.

The HAL is planning a Mark-2 with additional features such as upgraded avionics and active electronically scanned array radar and the ability to reach supersonic speed. This will be powered by a GE 414 engine – the same used by the Boeing Super Hornet F-18-A.
The reason
The final operational clearance has been put on hold as around 1,700 parametres still need to be validated before the Tejas is inducted into the Indian Air Force
These parametres are vital for creating flight manuals and laying down specifics of the single engine plane and cannot be completed within the next five months
The Ministry of Defence expects that the tests will be completed by the middle of 2015
 Defence Ministry fixes anomalies in rank pay case
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has rectified some of the anomalies contained in its orders issued earlier to implement the judgment of the Supreme Court in the rank pay case pertaining to the Fourth Pay Commission.

On implementation of the Fourth Pay Commission, the component rank pay had been deducted from the salary of officers, while calculating their total emoluments and fixing their status vis-à-vis civilian officials. Consequently their emoluments were fixed lower than what they should actually have been if rank pay had been included in the calculations.

Similar anomalies also existed in the Fifth Pay Commission. The anomaly was only discovered years later and thereafter commenced a long legal battle, with the apex court finally ruling in 2010 that the deduction of the rank pay had been illegal.

When the MoD issued orders to implement the SC’s judgment, some phrases were “twisted”, resulting in not only the benefits being restricted to lesser number of officers, but also denying rectification of similar anomalies in the Fifth Pay Commission.

The SC had ruled that officers were entitled to befits and arrears “with effect from” January 1, 1986, but the MoD order stated that benefits would be given to officers in service “as on” January 1, 1986.

This implied officers who got commissioned after this date would not be granted the benefits even though the same pay commission was applicable to them. The service community had contended that the MoD’s orders were not in sync with the essence and sprit of the SC judgment.

While the Service Headquarters took up the issue with the government, a number of veterans, whose arrears and pension fixation were also affected, moved a contempt petition against the MoD. The MoD had also referred the matter to the Attorney General, who had given his opinion in favour of the officers on several issues.

The MoD’s orders issued on Thursday state that the words “as on 1.1.1986” in the earlier order be substituted by “w.e.f.1.1.1986”. New clauses have also been incorporated in the new order which state that similar benefits would also be extended for recommendations of the Fifth Pay Commission, which too contained the same anomaly pertaining to rank pay.
Questions about nuclear weapons
Non-proliferation ayatollahs are again chasing India
Gurmeet Kanwal
IN a partisan and condescending editorial in early July 2014, New York Times wrote: "If India wants to be part of the nuclear suppliers group, it needs to sign the treaty that prohibits nuclear testing, stop producing fissile material, and begin talks with its rivals on nuclear weapons containment."

The newspaper is sharply critical of India's efforts to acquire membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). It bases its criticism on a report by IHS Jane's, a US-based research group, that India is in the process of enhancing its capacity to enrich uranium - ostensibly to power the nuclear reactors on the INS Arihant and future SSBNs, but much in excess of the requirement. This, the editorial says, is causing anxiety to the Pakistanis and has raised the spectre of an arms race in southern Asia.

It is obvious that the editorial writer understands neither the background to nor the present context of India's nuclear deterrence. As stated in a letter written by the then Prime Minister A B Vajpayee to US President Bill Clinton after India's nuclear tests at Pokhran in May 1998 (in an unfriendly act, the letter was leaked to the media by the White House), the primary reason for India's acquisition of nuclear weapons was the existential threat posed by two nuclear-armed states on India's borders, with both of which India had fought wars over territorial disputes. The China-Pakistan nuclear and missile nexus, including the clandestine transfer of nuclear materials and technology from China to Pakistan, has irrevocably changed the strategic balance in southern Asia. It has enabled Pakistan to neutralise India's superiority in conventional forces and wage a proxy war under the nuclear umbrella.

Since then, the nuclear environment in southern Asia has been further destabilised. China's ASAT test, BMD programme, efforts aimed at acquiring MIRV capability and ambiguity in its 'no-first-use' commitment, while simultaneously modernising the PLA and establishing a 'string of pearls' by way of ports in the Indian Ocean, are a cause for concern for India. Similarly, Pakistan is engaged in the acquisition of 'full spectrum' nuclear capability, including a triad and battlefield or tactical nuclear weapons, which invariably lower the threshold of use. Pakistan has stockpiled a larger number of nuclear warheads (110 to 120) than India (90 to 100) and is continuing to add to the numbers as it has been given unsafeguarded nuclear reactors by China. Mujahideen attacks on Pakistan's armed forces recently have led to the apprehension that some of Pakistan's nuclear warheads could fall into Jihadi hands.

Some statements made by IHS Jane's in its report are factually incorrect. The research group has assessed that the new Indian uranium enrichment facility at the Indian Rare Metals Plant near Mysore will enhance India's ability to produce 'weapons-grade' uranium to twice the amount needed for its planned nuclear-powered SSBN fleet. The report does not say how the research group arrived at this deduction. Also, the nuclear power reactors of SSBNs require uranium to be enriched only up to 30 to 40 per cent. Weapons-grade uranium must be enriched to levels over 90 per cent.

For the record, the Government of India has denied reports that it is 'covertly' expanding its nuclear arsenal. An Indian official told The Hindu (Atul Aneja, "India trashes report on covert nuclear facility", June 22, 2014) that the report was 'mischievously timed' as it came just before a meeting of the NSG. He said, "It is interesting that such reports questioning India's nuclear credentials are planted at regular intervals." The US Government also dismissed the report as 'highly speculative' ("US dismisses report on India covertly increasing nukes", The Hindu, June 21, 2014). The US State Department spokesperson said, "We remain fully committed to the terms of the 123 agreement and to enhancing our strategic relationship…"

The 123 agreement signed after the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement of July 2005 gives an exemption to India's nuclear weapons facilities and stockpiles of nuclear weapons fuel from inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). India has agreed to bring 14 nuclear power reactors under international safeguards. Eight military facilities, including reactors, enrichment and reprocessing facilities, will remain out of the purview of IAEA safeguards. India is at liberty to set up additional military facilities using unsafeguarded materials if these are considered necessary.

India has been a responsible nuclear power and has a positive record on non-proliferation. India has consistently supported total nuclear disarmament and is in favour of negotiations for the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT). For both technical and political reasons, it is important for India to keep its option to conduct further nuclear tests open; hence, it cannot sign the CTBT at present even though it has declared a unilateral moratorium on nuclear tests.

Non-proliferation ayatollahs should channel their efforts towards identifying and shaming the real proliferators. Influential newspapers like New York Times should review the progress made by the P-5 nuclear weapons states (NWS) on the implementation of the commitments made by them during the 2010 NPT Review Conference (RevCon) as RevCon 2015 is coming up.

The commitments made at the 2010 RevCon include progress in the implementation of the New Start Treaty; disposal of HEU extracted from nuclear warheads; steps towards early entry into force of the CTBT, monitoring and verification procedures and its universalisation; efforts to revitalise the Conference on Disarmament (CD) by ending the impasse in its working and, the immediate start of negotiations on a legally binding, verifiable international ban on the production of fissile material by way of the FMCT; and, measures to strengthen the non-proliferation regime.

In April 2009, in his first major foreign policy speech, popularly known as the 'Prague Spring' speech that won him the Nobel Peace prize, President Barack Obama had committed the US to work towards a world free of nuclear weapons in line with the growing bipartisan consensus expressed by Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, William Perry, and Sam Nunn, in their famous 2007 Wall Street Journal article. The New York Times should enquire how well that commitment is being fulfilled.
Flying through clouds
Col H P Singh
Surds and birds are born flyers", my instructor remarked to encourage me when I was finding it difficult to hover the helicopter during my flying training.

Having acquired the stiffness of the Army in drills and parades over the years, it was not easy becoming a flyboy and learning to fly by the "feel of pants" rather than the procedures of maneuvers.

One also had the distinctions of learning to fly an aircraft and drive a car at the same time. The first solo sortie was an experience that raised the dopamine levels in the body exponentially.

When we were awarded the flying badge or the coveted "Wings" at the end of our training, we were confident that no power on earth could now take our wings away from us. It was an apt recognition of our acquired skill of venturing into the third dimension.

On joining the squadron we went through the tactical flying training and I remember those golden words of my CO, a fatherly figure, who said: "There are either old pilots or bold pilots and there can never be an Old Bold Pilot". There were others who gave us funny but useful guidance during our formative years in aviation.

During one of the exercises in Rajasthan, our boss gave us pearls of wisdom: "While flying here in deserts, whenever you feel unsure of your position just turn due East or else you will return via Islamabad".

I did not realise the importance of these words of experience till I got the difficult task of taking the mortal remains of a colleague who had died in a crash on the aircraft I had flown only a day prior.

The greatest challenge of flying was experienced at the Siachen Glacier, where the machine, pilots and their guts were tested to the limits. Every sortie here is a new experience and every landing a great relief. The dilemma of whether to attempt a rescue mission in marginal weather was never easy. While the heart went for the dying soldier, our minds at times thought otherwise. Flying through clouds is not at all pleasant and only an aviator can experience sweat run down his temples in sub-zero temperatures at those altitudes.

Evacuating the wounded has been another great experience. The sight of hope in the eyes of the wounded man would only toughen our resolve. The smearing of our shoes with the blood of the casuality lying behind our seat would be nauseating, to say the least. When one did get to meet this man after his recovery, his gratitude would be better than being awarded a medal.

Today when I am in the process of getting a civil pilot licence, one wonders if one would ever get the same job satisfaction as one got while flying in those green overalls. Will the tonnes of money earned ever equal the words of that dying officer whom we had once evacuated. His last words were: "Thanks for trying".
Army Happy With ‘Quick’ Govt

NEW DELHI: India’s armed forces top brass are a happier lot since the Narendra Modi government took over and have been gushing over the “decisiveness” of the NDA government at meetings and during private conversations.

The latest to do so, that too publicly, was Army chief General Bikram Singh at a farewell tea hosted by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley last week.

At the get-together of all top officials from the ministry above the Joint Secretary rank and senior officials from the armed forces, Singh told in presence of Jaitley, that he was “very happy” with the quick decision-making capabilities of the Defence Minister and the government’s political leadership. “During the brief time-period in which I worked with the new government, I was impressed with the decisiveness that was shown,” he was quoted as saying at the farewell by Ministry officials.

Just days ahead of the farewell meeting, Singh’s Navy counterpart Admiral Rabindra Kumar Dhowan was “very impressed” with the manner in which Jaitley had conducted his first-ever Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) meeting, on a Saturday, when the government offices are usually closed.

The armed forces have a reason to rejoice. Not only did Jaitley, as Finance Minister, hike the defence capital budget by `5,000 crore for this fiscal to `94,588 crore, which was announced by the previous UPA government in February this year, he also set aside `1,000 crore from the hiked amount for creating rail networks along Pakistan and China border for quicker and easier movement of troops and their equipment.

Jaitley also hiked the allocation for ‘One Rank, One Pension’ for ex-servicemen by two times from Rs. 500 crore to Rs. 1,500 crore. The government also took less time to prune the list of items that are to be manufactured under the Defence Ministry’s license. The Modi government also quickly decided to hike the Foreign Direct Investment cap from the one-and-a-half-decade-old policy of 26 per cent to 49 per cent through Foreign Investment Promotion Board approval.

If these decisions came about in the budget, the NDA government surprised the armed forces, with the Environment Ministry under Prakash Javadekar announcing that a policy framework for speedier clearances to key border infrastructure and roads was being prepared. That would mean at least 80 key border roads of approximately 6,000 km along the China border would get the needed impetus.

On the issue of North East infrastructure, General Bikram Singh, within a month of the NDA government assuming power, had met General (Retired) V K Singh, who is the Minister of State for North East Development, to seek cooperation for the military projects.

Also, going by the advice of the Army, the government recently ruled out any changes in the policy on the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in the troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir at the first meeting of the Modi-headed Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

On military acquisitions, the CCS also approved the budgetary allocation of Rs. 19,000 crore for completing the first indigenous aircraft carrier project— the 40,000-tonne INS Vikrant—at the Cochin Shipyard.

The first DAC meeting under Jaitley’s chairmanship cleared the Rs. 15,000-crore tendering process for 56-plane project to replace the ageing fleet of Air Force’s Avros transport aircraft.

This apart, the DAC in its meeting a week ago, also cleared procurement proposals worth Rs. 21,000 crore, including the supply of 32 HAL-built Advanced Light Helicopter ‘Dhruv’ to the Coast Guard and the Navy at a cost of Rs. 7,000 crore. The two maritime forces would get 16 Dhruvs each under the supply order.
Foot soldier's son turns Indian army chief
Having spent a lifetime as a foot soldier in the Army Ram Phal Suhag (84) from Bishan village in Haryana's Jhajjar district dreamt of seeing his son as an officer in the forces.

His dream came true and nearly four decades on his son - Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag - will take charge as the 26th Army chief in India on July 31.

"Two generations of our family served in the junior ranks but I had decided to raise my kids as leaders. I wanted Dalbir to not only be a commissioned officer but a top ranking officer of the Army," Ram said who retired as a Subedar Major from 18-Cavalary regiment of Indian army.

"Dalbir was in class IV in the village's primary school when I admitted him to Sainik School, Chitorgarh in Rajasthan. He performed very well and made me proud by joining the National Defence Academy (NDA) in 1970," he added.

His younger son Dharambir Suhag and both sons-in-law are senior ranking officers in the Army.

When asked about Dalbir's fitness level who can match young officers, Ram said that he used to force him to drink milk and eat churma and got strong people in village would beat you. He also stated that they used to send desi ghee from village to Dalbir at the various places he was posted.

According to sources, Dalbir is fitness freak and still walks for 10 km daily.
India's peacekeeping efforts praised by UN delegation
New Delhi: The UN has appreciated India's contribution to global peace keeping efforts in meetings with top Indian Army brass here.

A four-member UN delegation led by Herve Ladsous, Under Secretary General of United Nations at the Department of Peace Keeping Operations, called on the Chief of Army Staff General Bikram Singh and R K Mathur, Defence Secretary and Vice Chief Of Army Staff (VCOAS) on 25 July, an army statement said.

"The delegation appreciated India's contribution to global peacekeeping efforts. Ladsous commended the professionalism, commitment and dedication of Indian Peacekeepers.

"The discussions covered a wide range of issues related to current UN peace keeping efforts including emerging trends and associated challenges. Discussions were also held on enhancing the effectiveness of UN lead peace efforts in future," it said.

India has contributed more than 7,000 troops for peacekeeping operations and they are deployed at missions in Africa, East Asia and West Asia.

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