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Tuesday, 5 August 2014

From Today's Paper - 05 Aug 2014

Maj generals Kick up a row at show - Ahmedabad Mirror,Ahmedabad Mirror

A public showdown between two major generals at a movie screening in the Army Cantonment at Shahibaug left defence personnel with a lot to kick around. Armymen and their families — who had gathered with great excitement at Walker Hall to watch a screening of Salman Khan-starrer Kick — had to return home disappointed when a spat over seniority between Major General Dilawar Singh, additional director general of NCC, and Major General S S Hasabnis, General Officer Commanding of 11th Infantry Division, led the movie to be cancelled. The incident occurred around 8 pm on Sunday.

“Major General Singh informed the staff at Walker Hall that he would arrive with his wife to watch the movie. The 300-seater hall was full when the Singhs reached the hall. The couple sat in the front row where seats for the General Officer Commanding (GOC) are reserved. Ten minutes later, Major General Hasabnis walked up to Singh and asked him to vacate the seat in front of everyone in the hall. When Singh refused, Hasabnis asked the staff to cancel the show. Soon, a slide flashed on screen, stating that the movie cannot be shown due to ‘technical error’. Everyone went home disappointed,” said a reliable source.

Within minutes, a message narrating the incident went viral. It stated, “ADG… rank of Major General sat down on GOC’s seat, the only seat available at movie hall for general rank officers. For 8 pm show. Requsted to vacate as expected he declined. The movie was not run. On instructions of GOC Ahmedabad div. What a shame and immaturity on behalf of GOC Ahmedabad division. All jawans, families, and officers and their families in full view seeing the drama. Shame! (sic)”

The incident was provoked by the ongoing power struggle between the two major generals. Narrating the sequence of events that culminated in Sunday’s tiff, Ahmedabad Gymkhana President Yunus Sheikh said, “Our club faced an issue with Army and NCC officers transferring out of Ahmedabad station without paying their bills. Our committee asked the 11th Infantry Division to give guarantee of payment through their Golden Qatar mess. They agreed to pay for officers serving the Army and asked us to contact NCC for their officers. When we discussed this issue with Major General Singh, he requested for the by-laws of the club.

One of the rules stated that the seniormost general in the station is appointed as patron of the club. Upon reading this, Singh realised he was senior to Hasabnis, who was be-ing then honoured as the patron, and wrote a letter to the club stating he was the seniormost.” Interestingly, Singh was posted in Ahmedabad about a year and a half ago while Hasabnis was posted here only in December 2013.

“After receiving the letter from Singh, we sent a letter to the Core Commander (Jodhpur) to guide us on who was seniormost and who was to be appointed as patron. When we received no response, we requested Singh to justify his seniority. He provided the club with a letter from the Ministry of Defence, confirming his seniority and we appointed him as the patron of our club,” said Sheikh. Dated June 26, 2014, the letter issued by Lieutenant Colonel Ashish Pradhan stated: “It is intimated that Maj Gen Dilawar Singh, 1979 batch, GC officer is senior to Maj Gen S S Hasabnis of 1981 batch of Engrs (GC).” Though the letter put all doubts to rest, the squabble at Walker Hall took place. Mirror learnt that Singh reported Sunday’s incident to Army headquarters in Pune.

On Monday morning, Singh reportedly received a call from Hasabnis apologising for the incident. Repeated attempts to contact Hasabnis were in vain, but Wing Commander Abhishek Matiman accepted that a message had gone viral on Whatsapp. “I had gone for the movie, too. Suddenly, there was a message on the screen stating the movie was being cancelled due to a technical error and we all left. I am looking into the matter.” Asked who the seniormost Army officer is, he confirmed, “Major General Singh is the seniormost officer here.” When contacted, Major General Singh said, “Being the senior officer, I would not like to comment on the conduct of juniors. Whatever the matter is has been reported to higher authority. As a senior, it will always be my endeavour to work with synergy for everyone’s betterment.”
 After losing young son, a father fights for pension
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4
The father of a young Lieutenant of the Armoured Corps who was killed in a military exercise in 2010 and subsequently declared a ‘battle casualty’ by the Army, is struggling to get his son’s rightful pensionary benefits released.

In the second round of litigation, GK Karol has moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court, challenging the decision of the Armed Forces Tribunal that had restricted the benefits of arrears of pension.

After the demise of his son and the rejection of his claim for liberalised dependant family pension in 2011, Karol had approached the AFT in February 2012 when the Ministry of Defence had not treated the death of the young officer as a battle casualty or having occurred during battle training exercise or inoculation.

Agreeing with his contentions, an AFT Bench comprising Justice Rajesh Chandra and Air Marshal SC Mukul directed the payment of the correct type of pension but restricted the arrears to only a period of six months prior to filing of the petition by the father.

Challenging the AFT’s decision, Karol pointed out that as per the law laid down by the Supreme Court, full arrears are to be granted in case the amount is illegally held back by the government, and at best, in case of an inordinate delay on a legal point of interpretation, the arrears can be restricted to a period of three years prior to filing of the petition. The HC has issued a notice of motion to the government and the AFT on the petition.

The petitioner has pointed out that the Supreme Court and High Courts have already quashed similar orders restricting the arrears and “rather than following law laid down by Constitutional Courts, the tribunal in a strange form of dissidence from laid down judicial norms, has started restricting arrears of poor military litigants to only a period of six months”.

He contended that such an approach went against judicial decorum and consistency and that no other court or bench of the AFT is restricting arrears to a period of six months.

Legal battle

    GK Karol's son, a young Lieutenant of the Armoured Corps, was killed in a military exercise in 2010. The officer was subsequently declared a 'battle casualty' by the Army
    Karol has now moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court, challenging the decision of the Armed Forces Tribunal that had restricted the benefits of arrears of his son's pension
Ministry of defence, Army officer get Rs 1 lakh in damages for Gurgaon accident
NEW DELHI: A trial court has awarded Rs 1 lakh in compensation to the ministry of defence and commanding officer Biplab Das of the Indian Army who was driving an Army vehicle, which was damaged after being hit by a truck in Gurgaon.

Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) directed United India Insurance Company, insurer of the offending truck, to pay for damages.

"The accident was caused because of over speeding of the offending vehicle. When the Army vehicle was taking a U-turn, the truck could have seen it. Had he (driver of the truck) been driving the vehicle at a normal speed, he could have stopped," MACT presiding officer Deepak Jagotra said, while relying on the officer's testimony.

According to the petition filed by the defence ministry through its secretary and commanding officer (Das), while Das was returning from ration collection duty on April 11, 2014, he halted near a NSG camp in Gurgaon. He was about to take a U-turn when the truck, being driven rashly, hit the Army vehicle and caused severe damages. Das, in the petition, told the tribunal that the Army vehicle was inspected by the station workshop in Delhi Cantonment area and they found that it was downgraded from class III to class VI. Cost of the damage was assessed at Rs 4.5 lakh.

In their defence, the driver and owner of the truck claimed that Das did not signal before taking a U-turn. The tribunal, however, rejected the contention.

MACT accepted the insurance company's claim that Idrish (truck's driver) did not have a valid driving licence at the time of the accident. It allowed the company to recover the compensation amount from the owner of the truck.
Battle heats up for a share of the defence pie
When it comes to high-mobility, multi-purpose personnel carriers like the Humvee, which is the transport backbone of the US Army, India lags far behind. But in three years from now, the world's third-largest armed force could have its own Humvee-like light combat vehicle - produced indigenously. With the opening up of defence production to private sector, with 49 per cent foreign participation, domestic automotive companies such as Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra and Ashok Leyland are all in the running for this order.

"This vehicle can adapt itself for many uses. It can be used as a troop carrier or an ambulance, or for reconnaissance purposes. It can even carry small radars," says Vernon Noronha, vice-president (defence & government business), Tata Motors. The vehicle will weigh 5 tonnes and will have eight or nine variants, he adds. Request for proposals for this class of vehicle will be out as early as September, believes Noronha, followed by year-long trial and testing.

The Humvee-like troop carrier is only one of the machines Indian companies are hoping to supply to the country's armed forces. It is estimated that over the next seven years or so, India will buy equipment worth $75 billion to $100 billion. And domestic companies hope to bag a large chunk of those orders.

At least eight Indian companies are eyeing the Rs 52,000-crore contract to supply the heavily-armoured Future Infantry Combat Vehicle, or FICV, to the Indian Army. With annual service and maintenance agreements, this figure would swell further. At Rs 20 crore apiece, the vehicle, which can be used both on land and in water, will have an anti-tank guided missile system and a machine gun. The government is also working on contracts for rocket launchers, combat vehicles, troops carriers, light-strike vehicles, missile carriers, radars, mounted gun systems, submarines and transport planes, to name a few. Though Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has raised the defence budget 12 per cent to $38.35 billion (Rs 2.3 lakh crore), because of the limited reach of state-owned producers of defence goods, India remains the largest importer of arms in the world. More than 65 per cent of the country's defence needs are met from outside India. Now, as the government tries to progressively replace the Soviet-era military hardware, the stress is on greater involvement of private entities. For example, earlier this month, the government cleared the project for the production of military transport aircraft which is open only to the private sector. The government wants to replace the 56 Avro transport aircraft bought in the 1960s. Over a dozen private companies, including Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, Ashok Leyland, Bharat Forge, Pipavav Defence, Titagarh Wagons, Larsen & Toubro and MRF, are eyeing the contract that is worth over Rs 60,000 crore. Sources say over the last one month, activity at the defence ministry has gathered significant pace. "The frequency of meetings has increased. The government is inviting us (private sector) to explain its needs. We see a very positive environment ahead," says Noronha.

The government's decision to increase foreign direct investment in defence manufacturing to 49 per cent from 26 per cent has also given a boost to private companies. "International defence companies are eager to do business in India and are already in talks with many local companies," says a senior executive of an automobile company. There is the hope that complex technology, details of which are closely guarded by foreign companies, would now be shared with the Indian partners.

Collaborations are already under way. Chennai-based Ashok Leyland, which has been supplying the Stallion military truck to the army, has forged a tripartite agreement to manufacture mounted gun systems with French gun-maker Nexter and engineering giant Larsen & Toubro. Mumbai-based Tata Motors is holding talks with some producers of foreign defence goods, while Pipavav is in the advanced stages of bagging an Indian Navy contract to modernise or replace up to 100 ships over the next decade. The Australian unit of Swedish giant SAAB is assisting Pipavav in this venture under a technical partnership agreement.

In addition to Tata Motors, 13 other companies of the Tata group have interests in the defence sector and are looking forward to orders worth Rs 8,000 crore. Tata Advanced Systems, for instance, makes airframe components for the C-130J heavy-lift transport military aircraft, while Tata Power SED has worked on integrated guided missile systems and multi-barrel rocket launchers.

In some cases, private companies are not willing to wait for the product requirement to come to them. Instead, products are being developed in advance.Tata Motors, for example, has developed a 12X12 truck (the second of its kind in the world), which can haul inter-ballistic missiles to any part of the country. And the Kalyani group, the promoter of Bharat Forge, is in the process of developing mine-protected vehicles, a ground penetrating radar and ultralight gun system.

Can corporate India catch up?
The road ahead, however, is long and challenging. While a handful of private Indian companies have been in the defence business for the last few decades, they are, however, no match for their western counterparts, some of whom have been around for over 200 years.

Major General K B Kapoor (retd), director, Centre for Joint Warfare Studies, says, "Technology has both hard and soft components. While India is very strong as far as the soft components are concerned, it still lacks in the hard components of technology, which necessarily means military hardware."

Known for frugal engineering, Indian companies will face the challenge of consistently maintaining the highest standards of quality. Delays or alterations to projects leading to cost escalation that could hinder government approvals will also have to be taken into account, say market watchers.

S P Shukla, president (group strategy & defence sector), Mahindra & Mahindra, says, "Stage I is about defining the specifications followed by request for prototype. Next comes the making of the prototype according to the specifications. Generally, these projects run into thousands of crores of rupees. This segment is not for companies with a small balance sheet."

Mahindra & Mahindra has five operational companies under defence. It is the only business house in India that is engaged in projects meant for all the three wings of the armed forces - the army, navy and air force. Since the FDI limit was raised, the group has opened talks with several potential partners. Though Shukla declines to divulge details of the projects the group is working on, he admits that the company is in the race for the FICV project. Others, such as the Kalyani group of Pune, are asking for speedier licences and better clarity on the issue of ownership. The Baba Kalyani-led group is looking at a number of segments, including artillery systems, armoured vehicles, futuristic ammunition, air defence systems, defence electronics and protected vehicles.

"It is important to address the problems associated with approvals and grant of industrial licences in a time-bound manner," says Amit Kalyani, executive director, Bharat Forge. "Currently, licences are in the pipeline for many years and we still do not have clarity on the issue of ownership and investment through Foreign Institutional Investor or the portfolio route."

The delays are palpable. Sometime in 2003, the government had announced that Mahindra & Mahindra had been issued a licence to make small firearms. The government was to initially procure 50,000 of these guns and order another 200,000 if their quality was found to be good. Mahindra & Mahindra immediately got down to work and tied up with an Austrian company called Steyr. It worked hard to customise the gun for Indian conditions. But there was no headway in this decision. The licence has since expired.

However, the problems notwithstanding, a beginning has been made. And the private sector hopes to make the most of it.
Philip Campose takes over as Vice Chief of Army Staff
New Delhi, Aug 4 (IBNS) Lieutenant General Philip Campose, the erstwhile Western Army Commander, took over as the Vice Chief of Army Staff on Friday in place of General Dalbir Singh, who has taken over the reins of the Indian Army, the Ministry of Defence said on Monday.

Lieutenant General Philip Campose is an alumnus of St Xavier’s School, Delhi, the National Defence Academy Khadakwasla and the Indian Military Academy at Dehradun.

He was commissioned into the Infantry in 1974 and later sidestepped into the newly constituted Mechanised Infantry Regiment in 1982. Trained at the Vystral Academy, Russia and the Defence Services Staff College Wellington, the General Officer has also attended the Higher Command Course, Mhow and the National Defence College, New Delhi.

"The General Officer has commanded an Independent Armoured Brigade, an Infantry Division on the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and a Corps in the Western Sector. He has participated in a UN Peacekeeping Mission in the former Yugoslavia and headed a UN security force in Northern Iraq," the Ministry of Defence said in a statement on Monday.

The General Officer has been awarded the Vishist Seva Medal and the Ati Vishist Seva Medal twice for distinguished service.

He tenanted the appointment of the Director General Perspective Planning (DGPP) at the Army Headquarters at New Delhi, before taking over as General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command last year.

He is the also the Colonel Commandant of the Mechanised Infantry Regiment.

On Monday, Lieutenant General Philip Campose laid a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti, followed by an Guard of Honour at the South Block, to welcome him into his new assignment.
Going on 70, but still loath to hang up his boots
Born in 1946 in Mohie village in Ludhiana district, Col Gursewak Singh (retired) studied at Panjab University, Chandigarh before enrolling in the National Defence Academy. He was commissioned in the Indian army in 1969 and during his 35 years of service has participated in several conflicts including the Bangladesh War of 1971 and the Kargil War of 1999.

For someone who has been a keen student of human psychology ever since he joined the army, ‘ Colonel Guru’ (as he is popularly known) used his skills of a psychologist to take the pressure off soldiers on the front line. “We worked extensively on confidence and morale building exercises,” he says. Realising that the government often fails to provide moral support to troops when it is most needed, he began counselling soldiers on a range of combat related mental health issues and termed this phase as the “turning point” of his life.

By the time he retired from the army in 2004, Singh already knew the time to pursue his calling had arrived. He developed a unique mind-body method of destressing the human body, which he called “cosmic meditation”. With all the enthusiasm of a beginner, he began conducting workshops on stress management and personality development. Such was their impact that he soon started getting invitations for giving lectures in the United States and Canada.

Not only this, Singh is a marriage and career counsellor too. “Faulty relationships are the prime cause behind stress. While I was in the army I came across many broken marriages of soldiers, which helped me gain insight into the factors responsible for marital discord,” he says.

What makes Singh stand apart from the rest is that he prefers to conduct his workshops free of cost. Ask him why and he promptly replies, “I developed my counselling skills while I was in the army and whatever I’m today I owe to those 35 years. Hence this is my way of giving back to society.”

Having held workshops for major companies, educational institutes, the Chandigarh judicial academy and the police force, to name a few, he is content with what he has accomplished. “Both my children are married and settled and I get my pension regularly. I’ve found the most supportive partner in my wife, Bhupinder Kaur, and we’ve our own house, so why should I ask for more?” he asks.

At 68 his creativity remains undiminished, finding an outlet in writing. His first book, titled Happiness through PEG Therapy, was published just a year after his retirement. The latest addition is Stress Management: Steps to Health, Happiness And Success, which deals with lifestyle diseases in urban India and was released at the 2013 Chandigarh Book Fair.

As if all this wasn’t enough, Singh regularly participates in social service activities in his capacity as secretary of the Senior Citizens Welfare Association, Manimajra and secretary public relations of the Residents’ Welfare Association, Manimajra. Asked where he gets the energy to pull through a day packed with events, Singh says: “The answer is in the question itself. I feel energised simply because I work. Had I given up on life I wouldn’t have been able to do all the things I’m doing today. The kind of satisfaction I get when an estranged couple walks out of my office with the resolve to make their marriage work is much more than that I’d get out of taking a nap at that hour!”

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