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Sunday, 3 August 2014

From Today's Papers - 03 Jul 2014

Time India woke up to US surveillance
Hardeep S Puri
The Indian establishment had been remarkably silent on the comprehensive surveillance to which India, its leaders, political parties, diplomatic representation and its economic entities have been subjected by the National Security Agency (NSA) of the US. Salman Khushid’s statement that what was being collected was only ‘metadata’ lead to the inference being drawn that there was some collaborative arrangement between New Delhi and Washington. Whilst the jury is still out on the ‘collaboration’ part of the arrangement, if any, information now available in the public domain, thanks to Edward Snowden, indicates an altogether different and more serious dimension.
Visiting Secretary of State John Kerry was told by Sushma Swaraj on July 31 during the US-India Strategic Dialogue that India had been outraged and that such snooping was unacceptable. Some of the implications of such surveillance for our national security need to be understood.

Within a few weeks of India being elected to the UN Security Council, on 22 December 2010, as India’s PR to the UN, I addressed a communication to the then Foreign Secretary requesting both preventive and countermeasures in the more important offices and conference facilities urgently for protection of in-house discussions/meetings and for the security of our communications. There was not even an acknowledgment of the request made, let alone any action on this written communication carrying the highest classification.

The Snowden revelations and the ‘top secret’ documents released by him have now been collated by Glen Greenwald in his recently released book ‘No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the US, Surveillance State’.

A top secret document of August 2010 has the following:

“In late spring 2010, eleven branches across five Product Lines teamed with NSA enablers to provide the most current and accurate information to USUN (United States Mission to the United Nations) and other customers on how UNSC members would vote on the Iran Sanctions Resolution.… SIGINT was key in keeping USUN informed of how the other members of the UNSC would vote.

“…according to USUN, SIGINT ‘helped me to know when the other Permreps [Permanent Representatives] were telling the truth… revealed their real position on sanctions… gave us an upper hand in negotiations… and provided information on various countries’ “red lines”’.”

Page 146 lists seven programmes, as then being operational against India, four against the Indian Permanent Mission to the UN in New York and three against the Indian Embassy in Washington.

The explanatory notes make interesting reading. The operations against India/UN are codenamed NASHUA, the ones against the Embassy in Washington, OSAGE. More importantly, the following programmes described as ‘Mission’ were being used against Indian establishments in the US: HIGHLANDS (collection from implants), VAGRANT (collection of computer screens), MAGNETIC (sensor collection of magnetic emanations), LIFESAVER (imaging of the hard drive).

Now that the External Affairs Minister has termed the surveillance ‘unacceptable’, it stands to reason that we should ask for a response on whether these programmes are still operative or have been withdrawn and/or whether new surveillance programmes have been introduced.

The collaborative arrangements between the multinational Internet and telecom majors and the NSA of the US should concern us even more.

AT&T has partnered the NSA since 1985. US court records in the class action suit Hepting Vs. NSA are revealing. (Details at Page 102 of a “top secret” slide presentation of the NSA shows AT&T as one of the “80 major global corporations” supporting its missions. Page 103 shows the NSA has a ‘Special Source Operation’ which has a list of three major corporates giving it access to various kinds of telecommunication facilities.

One of the corporates which is part of the “Special Source Operations” has been given the code name “Fairview.” The official document describes FAIRVIEW as a “Corporate partner since 1985 with access to international cables, routers, switches. The partner operates in the US, but has access to information that transits the nation and through its corporate relationships to provide unique access to other telecoms and Internet Service Providers. Aggressively involved in shaping traffic to run signals of interest past our monitors.” (Page 105)

Now, a fit case for ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not’. Whilst AT&T is an established collaborator and contractor for the NSA, its India representative for 20 years has managed to join the permanent Joint Committee on International Cooperation and Advocacy (JCICA) under the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS). This has been facilitated by an apex Chamber of Commerce.

Protestations that a person associated with AT&T for over 20 years cannot be part of such a sensitive committee have had no effect. He is a member of the committee set up to author the guidelines for the protection of the National Critical Information Infrastructure which will be manned by the NTRO.

I have tried in my own limited way to draw attention to the security implications of some of these issues since I left government in 2013. Snowden’s leaked documents published by Greenwald will hopefully drive home the seriousness of the issues involved. Perhaps we will soon be able to make a determination on whether we were collaborating with or are victims of such surveillance.
 Need to put the mojo back into Indo-US relations
Raj Chengappa
If US Secretary of State John Kerry hoped that his ‘kiss and make up’ trip last week would re-engage and re-energise Indo-US relations he must have gone back feeling a trifle jilted. Not that Kerry should have expected anything better. For more than a decade, the US had treated Narendra Modi as an outcast, refusing to give him a visa after the 2002 post-Godhra riots in Gujarat. Only when it was apparent that Modi would become the next Prime Minister did the US begin to woo him in earnest.

To the relief of the US Administration, after Modi assumed office as Prime Minister he made it clear that he bears no personal grudge for the treatment. President Pranab Mukherjee in his address to Parliament in June outlining the new government’s priority stated, “My government will bring a renewed vigour to our engagement (with the US) and intensify it in all areas, including trade, investment, science and technology, energy and education.”

US President Barack Obama, who was among the first world leaders to call up and congratulate Modi for his electoral victory, extended an invitation to make an official visit to Washington DC. The Modi-Obama summit is now scheduled for end September when the Indian Prime Minister goes to New York to address the UN General Assembly. Modi is also expected to address a joint sitting of the US Congress — a gesture that signalled the importance that Obama places on putting the mojo back in Indo-US relations.

Kerry’s visit was to reset the relationship between the two countries and lay the groundwork for signing some substantial agreements during Modi’s meeting with Obama. Though bilateral interactions between the two countries have never been as intense as now — there are 33 dialogue structures on a range of subjects — relations have admittedly been on a plateau in the past year. That was partly because the Indian General Election was underway and also because the Obama administration was preoccupied with domestic issues and on the international front busy fire fighting in Afghanistan, Ukraine and now West Asia.

There was also much disappointment in the US, particularly among power companies who had hoped that after the landmark Indo-US deal in 2008 they would be able to bag substantial orders for nuclear power plants and related technology. While the Indian nuclear establishment benefited from the deal with the import of nuclear fuel to run its power plants to capacity, US companies have so far unable to clinch any power projects because of the stiff liability law passed by the Indian Parliament.

Several other major dampers shadowed Kerry as he flew into Delhi last week, accompanied by an impressive entourage of officials, and met Union ministers Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley apart from Prime Minister Modi. Top among them was the Modi government’s decision to oppose the Trade Facilitation Agreement at the meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Geneva unless a suitable policy and time frame was fixed for permitting countries such as India to continue its subsidies towards farmers and consumers of food grain. Kerry did raise the subject with both Swaraj and Modi but found the Indian government unrelenting on its demands.

The other issue that bedevilled Kerry’s visit was reports that the US government’s national security apparatus had snooped on Indian political leaders, just as it had done in many other countries. Swaraj had expressed India’s strong disapproval of such measures and Kerry, who didn’t deny such reports, made polite assurances that the US was reviewing the entire business. India also raised the issue of the new immigration Bill that would make it difficult and costlier for Indians — both individuals and companies — to get work permits or do business with US entities. Particularly hit would be the Indian IT sector. Kerry had no concessions to offer on this.

The US is now keen to boost economic ties as the next big thing after the nuclear deal. American business is clearly interested in the new government’s proposals to establish 100 smart cities and Kerry talked of a pact for the US to assist India in establishing infrastructure needed for setting up these cities when Modi meets Obama. The US is also pushing for a fivefold increase in the current annual trade figure of $100 billion between the two countries and is exploring announcing a manufacturing or industrial pact during the summit related to co-development and offsets.

Chuck Hagel, US Defence Secretary, will visit Delhi later this week to firm up defence ties, including the purchase of US missiles and transport aircraft. On the nuclear front, India is requesting US companies to opt for the Russian model where the impact of the stringent liability clause could be monetised in the project proposals to set up nuclear plants. Instead of paying lip service to climate change, the US must put on the table collaborative projects on clean and green technology that could transform India’s non-conventional energy sector, particularly in the area of solar power. When Obama and Modi meet next month they must work towards injecting passion and ardour into the engagement if, as the US President believes, relations with India are to be the defining partnership of the 21st century.

The South Asia Channel        
Indian Defense Policy at a Turning Point
 Once again, the Indian defense sector is raising global expectations. India is being courted as a lucrative market for defense supplies, and global vendors and foreign leaders are vying with each other to get the first-mover advantage. But there have been so many false starts in the past that it would need some serious effort on part of newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government to convince its external interlocutors that much like in the past, this time too it won't be a damp squib.

Modi and his defense minister, Arun Jaitley, have underlined the urgent need to reform India's defense procurement policy. Jaitley has been charged with two important portfolios -- finance and defense -- underscoring recognition in the highest echelons of the Modi government that unlike during the previous two decades, India will have limited resources to spend on defense in the coming years.

The focus on defense in this year's budget is a welcome change from the perfunctory increases in the defense allocation over the last several years. It emphasizes the Modi government's commitment to military modernization, which was losing traction since 2005, under A.K. Antony, India's longest-serving defense minister. The attempt to do away with anomalies in pensions paid to ex-servicemen under the "One Rank, One Pension" policy and the announcement of the construction of a war memorial and a museum is heartening and should go a long way in assuaging the concerns of the defense community.

The increase in the foreign direct investment (FDI) cap to 49 percent from the present 29 percent, though welcome, is unlikely to be a game changer. It is a welcome first step but hopefully this will be complemented by other moves to make the defense public sector undertakings (PSUs) in India more accountable. And ultimately, it all comes down to setting a strategic direction for Indian defense. That's where the focus should be from now on. Modi can start by promptly appointing a full-time defense minister, allowing Jaitley to focus solely on finance.

It is a well-known secret that the Indian armed forces are facing critical shortages. The Indian Army urgently needs new field artillery, with some reports suggesting that it may not even have sufficient reserves to sustain a full-fledged war for 20 days. The Indian Air Force has repeatedly expressed concerns about the obsolescence of its ground-based air defense systems. The Indian Navy's dwindling submarine fleet poses its own set of challenges; it possesses just 13 conventional diesel-electric submarines, 11 of which are 20-27 years old. Army chief Gen. Bikram Singh is reported to have told Modi about the "critical hollowness" afflicting the Indian Army after a decade of missed deadlines for procurement and wherewithal to face war. It will indeed be a delicate task to manage an Indian defense modernization program, a priority of the Modi government, during a time of slow economic growth.

Modi has emphasized the importance of modernization of Indian weaponry time and again with an aspiration to transform India from the world's largest arms importer into a defense manufacturing hub. Jaitley has recognized that defense modernization had "slowed down" in the last few years and that providing the required equipment to the armed forces in a speedy manner would be the top priority of the Modi government. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) manifesto had talked of "FDI in select defense industries," with a focus on jobs and asset creation, besides increasing private sector participation in the defense sector. In line with this overall sentiment, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), a department that regulates the Indian industrial sector, had circulated a note to the Cabinet to raise the FDI cap in defense to 49 percent without technology transfer and beyond that with technology transfer. It had called for a cap of 74 percent in cases where the investor is willing to share technology and for allowing 100 percent FDI in manufacturing of state-of-the-art equipment. Foreign investment in the Indian defense sector is clearly necessary to improve the nation's defense preparedness as well as to reduce India's long-standing dependence on imports.

With the world's fourth-largest military and one of the biggest defense budgets, India has been in the midst of an ambitious plan to modernize its largely Soviet-era arms since the late 1990s -- one that has seen billions of dollars spent on the latest high-tech military technology -- as it has started asserting its political and military profile in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region. In line with India's broadening strategic horizons, its military acquisitions have also seen a marked shift from conventional land-based systems to means of power projection such as airborne refueling systems and long-range missiles. India has been busy setting up military facilities abroad, patrolling the Indian Ocean to counter piracy, protecting the crucial sea-lanes of communication, and demonstrating a military assertiveness hitherto not associated with it.

Yet most of this has happened in a context in which India's dependence on external actors in the defense sector is at an all-time high. Drastic steps are needed, as the Indian defense import bill is estimated to reach $130 billion over the next seven years even as homeland security purchases are likely to cross $110 billion. Though in the mid-1990s, India was assured that the indigenous content of weaponry would increase from 30 to 70 percent by 2005, the nation still continues to import more than 70 percent of its defense requirements from abroad. India today imports defense equipment worth over $8 billion annually, even as the story of the Indian state-run defense industry has been largely one of gross inefficiency, incompetence, and failure. The performance of the Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the body responsible for developing technologies for the military, has been abysmal because of a lack of any accountability. The Indian armed forces have not had a reliable experience in working with DRDO-made armaments. Given its significant budgetary resources in the context of a developing nation, it seems to have failed in delivering quality output. Most of its key projects have either not been completed on time or have resulted in huge cost overruns. A fundamental revamp of the DRDO and defense PSUs is the need of the hour.

The Indian defense sector has not been successful in attracting FDI, with a measly $4.94 million coming to India since the opening of the sector in 2001, the lowest in any sector. When the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government tried to increase the FDI limit from 26 percent to 49 percent, then-Defense Minister A.K. Antony, steadfast in his opposition, argued that this would make India dependent on foreign companies and vulnerable to the policies of their countries of origin on a long-term basis. This is a strange argument to make in a country that is importing most of its critical weapon systems from abroad. The real reason, perhaps, was Antony's desire not to rock the boat, which was the hallmark of his time in the government, making him one of the worst defense ministers India has ever had, neither managing to bring transparency in the moribund procurement system nor providing a strategic direction to defense planning.

The Indian corporate sector too has been a house divided on the issue of FDI in the defense sector. Initially supportive of FDI of up to 100 percent, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), an association of business organizations in India, has been changing its tune, suggesting that it is unlikely that technology transfers will be guaranteed with this move. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), a rival association that aims to create a favorable environment for industrial growth in India, meanwhile, has argued that FDI over 49 percent should only be allowed on a case-by-case basis, and only with technology transfers. Despite the fact that it doesn't have the capability, the Indian private sector is raising the bogey of the level playing field for the domestic industry in order to scuttle the move to bring foreign companies in.

There is an urgent need to strengthen India's weak military manufacturing industrial base by expanding private sector participation. This can be done by raising the FDI cap in the defense sector and by encouraging joint ventures between Indian and foreign defense firms. India's modernization program and the desire of external actors to tap into the new market should be an impetus for reforms. India's notoriously slow bureaucratic processes need to change if they want to continue reaching Western markets. Changes have been slow to come by because some institutional interests are so entrenched in government policy that it is nearly impossible to change.

An external force might just propel India to change. These external forces might come in the form of a backlash from Western defense industries over the slow and tedious contract process. The U.S. and Europe have made it clear they want to sell to India, but the current structure of the procurement process will only be tolerated so much. Eventually, someone might walk away. India can certainly emerge as an attractive destination for foreign manufacturers to set up defense manufacturing facilities in India for global defense markets. This will in turn lead to high-end technology coming into India with cascading effects across multiple sectors. But even an increase to 49 percent FDI, as proposed in the latest budget, may not be lucrative for global investors. The Modi government needs to go for a game-changing formula, one that not only enhances India's credibility in the eyes of global vendors but also encourages the Indian private sector to participate more fully in the defense sector.

For this, India needs domestic political leadership. The Indian government, over the years, has failed to demonstrate the political will to tackle the defense policy paralysis that seems to be rendering all the claims of India's rise as a military power increasingly hollow. There has been no long-term strategic review of India's security environment, and no overall defense strategy has been articulated. The challenge for the Indian government is to delineate clearly what products they need and how to build up their own industry in the process by significantly reforming their domestic defense manufacturing sector. In the absence of a comprehensive, long-term appraisal of the country's defense requirements, there will be little clarity about India's real needs in defense acquisitions. And India's rise as a major global player will remain merely a matter of potential.

Indian defense policy remains dysfunctional in large part because of the mismanagement by the bureaucracy of the Ministry of Defence, whose knowledge of defense-related issues remains far from adequate. It is now up to the Modi government, with its huge mandate, to provide some strategic direction to Indian defense policy.

Indian media upstages army in hostility towards Pakistan
The TV cameras were evidently not satisfied with his measured comments about defence preparedness and his soldiers’ welfare being a priority.

He was mobbed with a volley of hysterical questions even after he promised to come to the media after settling in his new job.

How would the chief respond to any future beheading of a soldier by Pakistanis?
The answer was extracted in two instalments. First a departing Gen Suhag turned back, walked to the mike, and said India’s response would be “more than adequate”. But the chorus persisted. The response would be “intense and immediate”, the general added virtually complying with the Shakespearean mob’s blood lust.

Next, the Indian headlines were screaming. The army chief had “warned” Pakistan that India’s response to any provocation — like the beheading of a soldier last year — would be “more than adequate, intense and immediate”.

TV anchors, starved of news in the Modi era, with a virtual clampdown on “leakages”, a rampant feature of the Manmohan Singh government, massaged the comments gleefully.

All they needed was a carelessly macho former military man hooked up from Pakistan, and an array of standard hawks among security analysts and regular loudmouths. And we had a freshly contrived atmospherics being readied for the foreign secretaries’ talks in Islamabad on August 25.

“We dare you to start a war, and you will be delivered the same fate again,” thundered a former Indian general.

“We are fighting in Waziristan to protect you,” bleated the Pakistani naval officer whose name I forget. “But if you want to fight us you are welcome to try crossing the border.” The air of bravado was distinctly TV friendly. Kindergarten classes would handle this more maturely.

On Thursday, outgoing chief Bikram Singh had said, again at the prodding of the media, that India gave a “befitting reply” after an Indian soldier was beheaded by Pakistani troops in January, 2013, along the Line of Control.

“It has been done. Please understand that when we use force, that use is from tactical to operational to strategic levels. When I mention that during that incident, it was aimed at operations at the tactical level, which have been undertaken. I think this has been done by the local commander, the chiefs have nothing to do with it,” General Singh said.

General Suhag was asked to clarify what that “befitting reply” was.

“My predecessor has already conveyed this yesterday, I can only tell you that our response to any such act will be more than adequate in future,” he said, speaking to reporters after a guard of honour welcoming him as the new commander.

Lance Naik Hemraj Singh was beheaded and another soldier was killed allegedly by Pakistani troops who crossed over into Indian territory in the Mendhar sector of Jammu and Kashmir on January 8 last year. That incident and a series of ceasefire violations took the strained ties between the neighbours to a new low.

Later in August, five Indian soldiers were killed in an ambush in the same sector, in a joint attack by Pakistani Special Forces and terrorists, Indian reports say.

What the new chief wanted to say on the opening day at work was pushed to the last paragraph.

General Suhag said he would prioritise the effectiveness of the 1.3 million-strong force, one report said. “My focus will be my soldiers... to enhance the preparedness and the effectiveness of the Indian Army. I will ensure that our soldiers are motivated, they are comfortable, competently trained and are provided with latest weapons and equipment,” he said.
Sri Lanka apologises for 'derogatory' article on Modi, Jayalalithaa
New Delhi: Facing immense outrage over an alleged derogatory article posted on Sri Lankan army's website, the island nation's Defence Ministry on Friday tendered unqualified apology to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.

ALSO READ: Full text of Sri Lanka's apology to Modi, Jaya

A statement posted on the Lankan Defence Ministry website, said, "We extend an unqualified apology to the Hon Prime Minister of India and Hon Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu."

It said the article titled 'How meaningful are Jayalalitha's love letters to Narendra Modi?' had been published without appropriate authorisation and it has been removed from the website.

"The article which had been published without appropriate authorisation and not reflecting any official position of the Government of Sri Lanka or Ministry of Defence and Urban Development has since been removed," the statement added.

The article had appeared on the Lankan Defence Ministry's website along with a graphical portrayal of Prime Minister Modi and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.

ALSO READ: Article in SL defence website: Parties one in backing Jayalalithaa

Earlier in the day, Jayalalithaa had urged PM Modi to seek unconditional apology from Lankan government over the derogatory article that criticised Tamil Nadu government for raising the issue of attacks on Indian fishermen.

Hours after the article was published, it created a furore in India, with BJP allies PMK and MDMK seeking severing of diplomatic relations with the island nation.

The article evoked strong protests in Parliament with CPI condemning it and asking the Centre to seek an apology from Colombo.

CPI National Secretary D Raja, who gave a notice of suspension of Question Hour in Rajya Sabha over the issue, said the article carrying "nasty comments" on Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the fishermen issue, was later taken off the site following protests.

"The Government of India should condemn it, register a strong protest with the Government of Sri Lanka and demand an apology from them," he said, adding that the issue "will not die" even though the article has been removed from the site.

"How can they target an elected Chief Minister of a state who has been taking up the issue with our Union Government," Raja said.

Attacking the Sri Lankan government, he said it does not have any respect for international opinion even after the UNHRC and other global fora have condemned attacks on Tamil people and Indian fishermen.

"Sri Lanka does not want any credible probe into the war crimes and gross human rights violations which took place during the war on the Tamil people," the CPI leader said, adding that "such a government is now abusing an elected Chief Minister, which will not be tolerated".
First day in office, Army Chief presages Pakistan on beheading-like incident
"I can tell you that our response to any such act will be more than adequate in future. It will be intense and immediate," General Suhag told reporters after his welcome Guard of Honour as Chief of Army Staff.

The new Army Chief was asked how did India give a 'befitting reply' to Pakistan after the beheading of Indian soldier Lance Naik Hemraj along the Line of Control in Poonch sector on January 8, last year by Pakistani troops.

Previous Army Chief General Bikram Singh on Thursday stated that India had given a befitting reply to Pakistan after the beheading incident.

"It has been done. Please understand that when we use force, that use is from tactical to operational to strategic levels,” said General Bikram Singh.

"When I mention that during that incident, it was aimed at operations at the tactical level, which have been undertaken. I think this has been done by the local commander, the Chiefs have nothing to do with it," he added.

Pakistani Special Forces under the Border Area Teams (BAT) had carried out the operation of beheading Hemraj and mutilitating the body of Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh.

Later in August, they had also killed five Indian troops in the same sector in a joint attack by Pakistani Special Forces and LeT terrorists.
General Suhag also expressed his gratitude to the government "for reposing faith" in him.

BJP had earlier opposed the process of designating General Suhag as the new Chief by the UPA government in its last days in office in May.

But soon after NDA came in power, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley had said that the new government would continue with the appointment made during UPA's tenure. Questions were also raised over his appointment by Union Minister and former Army Chief General V K Singh.
Armed Forces short of staff, security under threat
There is a severe shortage of security personnel across all the armed forces which is critical for internal and border security, a report published in DNA stated. The Ministry of Home Affairs on July 16 informed Parliament that there are approximately 71,520 vacancies in paramilitary forces lying vacant. According to the report, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) – has the largest number of vacancies (18,868) while Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which provides security to public sector undertakings and airports, is facing a staff crunch of some 15,295.

The same goes for Indo Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP) which has a strength of about 13,462 staff and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) (13,222) have more than 10,000 vacancies. If one goes by these numbers then it is not a good thing for the internal security of the nation and may prove lethal if not addressed at utmost urgency. The report further says that internal security poses a greater challenge when around 34 districts across the country are Maoist-infested and another 83 are partially affected by Red terror.

Quoting from a reply of Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State of Home Affairs to a question on July 22 in Parliament, the report said that the Minister had informed the House that country’s most populous State, Uttar Pradesh which has so far seen some 200 riots is the worst affected. Uttar Pradesh, which is reeling under communal tension is the worst affected State because of a huge crunch of police staff. It has only 81 policemen per lakh against a sanctioned strength of 178 cops per lakh to serve the people. As far as the shortage of personnel staff is concerned, the State is the third lowest after West Bengal which has 78 per lakh and Bihar (69 per lakh) personnel for the citizens.

But it is not that UP is only suffering since almost all States which are facing regular crimes, terrorism and investigation are on the same page. The report also says that at the national level, against a sanctioned strength of 181 police per lakh, only 136 policemen have been employed. In fact, the report by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, countries including Canada (191.4), Italy (549.9), Spain (313.0), US (223.6), have higher police-population ratio than India.

In the coming years, paramilitary forces are likely to face more shortage due various reasons. According to the Government estimates more than 90,000 posts are likely to fall vacant, the reports said. With more than 35,000 posts, the CRPF tops the list while in the BSF more than 26,000 places are likely to fall vacant.

In a shocking revelation, several paramilitary personnel opted for Voluntary Retirement Scheme and even resigned from service in the last five years, due to personal and domestic reasons, including marital discords, personal enmity, mental illness and depression, the report said.

Shortage of officers is another reason for the crunch in the armed forces. This is something that the Government cannot ignore and also it comes at a time when the country has to defend its large international borders along Pakistan and China. Minister of Defence Arun Jaitley, while replying to a question in Parliament on July 8 informed that over 10,000 officers’ posts are lying vacant in the armed forces.

The Indian Army is short of approximately 8,455 officers, the Navy around 1,672 officers and Indian Air Force has vacancy of 532 officers, the report said. However, in the beginning of this year, the Parliamentary Standing Committee had recommended suggestions to fill defence posts. The number of officers commissioned during 2009, 2010 and 2011 were 1,373; 1,488 and 1,780, respectively.

The PAC report had said that the it is distressed to learn that against the satisfactory picture given by the Defence Ministry, the three forces are deficient in its strength of officers. According to the report, the shortage of officers in the Army is partly attributable to accretions, selection procedures and difficult service conditions.

A paper published on August 14, 2012 in Indian Defence Review recommends there is a need to take immediate action to mitigate the problem to the extent possible.

Recommendations :

1. Presently, all staff appointments are fully subscribed and units are kept under-posted. It should be the other way around. It is better to carry deficiencies on staff.

2. A fresh look should be taken at all courses being run and their utility. The prime question should be whether the value of the course is worth depriving the unit of the officer’s services. Courses should not be run purely to sustain training establishments.

3. Every single young officer should be recalled from ERE duties. No young officer should be detailed as ADC to the President, Governors and the formation commanders. It is a most undesirable sight to see young officers being wasted on ceremonial clap-trap while the units are deprived of their presence.

4. There should be a total ban on the attachment of unit officers to formation headquarters. Most station duties should be performed by staff officers.

But it will be a challenge for the NDA Government, whose first and foremost priority would be to induct as many as officers to tackle both internal as well as border related security issues.
Lt General Narinder Pal Singh Hira Takes Over Command of Vajra Corps
Jalandhar:  Lieutenant General Narinder Pal Singh Hira today took over the command of the elite Vajra Corps.

The General Officer has also taken over as Colonel of the Sikh Light Infantry Regiment from General Bikram Singh, the former Chief of Army Staff, an official release said.

Lieutenant General NPS Hira is replacing Lieutenant General Ashwini Kumar Bakshi, who is retiring as General Officer Commanding of Vajra Corps from the Indian Army today.

An alumnus of the National Defence Academy (NDA) Khadakwasla, Lt General Hira was commissioned in the Sikh Light Infantry Regiment on December 16, 1978.

The General Officer has experience of conventional operations both in Western and Eastern Theatres, and also of Counter-Insurgency, both in J&K and in the North East.

He has had a distinguished career spanning various Command, Staff and Instructional appointments, it said.

The General Officer later commanded prestigious Infantry Brigade and Infantry Division on the Line of Control in the J&K with distinction.

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