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Thursday, 30 October 2014

From Today's Papers - 30 Oct 2014

 Rafale deal with IAF will be inked soon: France
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 29
Almost three years into negotiations over price and work-share arrangement between the Ministry of Defence and French company Dassault Aviation, the French government is positive that the Rafale fighter jet deal will be clinched any time now.

In January 2012, the Indian Air Force selected Dassault Aviation’s Rafale fighter jet out of six global competitors to buy 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA). The planes were tested for 643 parameters before the decision. When the global tender was floated for the MMRCA, the cost was estimated to be around $10 billion.

France’s Ambassador to India Francois Richier today said, “It is a very, very big contract and very complex. From what we have heard from the (Indian) Defence Ministry, we believe it is on the right course.”

When the Narendra Modi government took over in May, Defence Ministry officials had said it would take about three months to wrap up the contract.

Earlier this month, Russian Ambassador Alexander Kadakin claimed that the Rafales “will be swatted like mosquitoes in an August night” by Russia-supplied Chinese combat planes in a war. His French counterpart Richier refused to be drawn into commenting on Kadakin’s remarks.

Under the terms of the global tender, the IAF will acquire 18 of the aircraft in “flyaway” condition. The remaining 108 are planned to be built in Hindustan Aeronautics Limited facilities in Bangalore.Dassault Aviation’s key associate, the SAFRAN conglomerate, today entered into agreements to sponsor research projects at IIT Delhi and the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.
 BSF, police to shut down illegal ‘madrasas’ near B’desh border
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, October 29
The BSF has been directed to immediately launch a massive drive jointly with the district police to dismantle all suspected terrorists dens in the border districts adjoining Bangladesh.

They will also cross-check the identity proofs of the local people for identifying terrorists and outsiders.

The state government has also been advised to immediately close down all illegal ‘madrasas’ and to scrutinise and monitor the functioning of the madrasas which were sanctioned by former Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and the incumbent CM Mamata Banerjee.

These instructions were issued due to the spurt in subversive activities of the Jamaat-e-Islami and other terrorists groups in the Indo-Bangladesh border area. The instructions of the Home Ministry reached the state government today.

The NIA and other central agencies inquiring into the recent blast at Khagraghar, in which two terrorists were killed, also suspect that the terrorists involved in the Khagraghar blast had a plan kill Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Opposition leader Khaleda Zia and others.

The BJP, Congress and CPM separately led delegations to the disturbed areas at Makra, Khagraghar and Parui to make an on-the-spot study of the situation. But they were denied permission to visit the areas.

While the BJP and Congress teams returned after failing to enter these areas, the CPM members who included Ritabrata Bhattacharyya, MP, and Anishur Rahman, MLA, were arrested for violating orders under Section 144CrPC.

However, a three-member team of BJP MPs, led by Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi will make a fresh attempt to visit the disturbed areas tomorrow, said state BJP president Rahul Sinha. Other members are Udit Nath and Kriti Azad.

Sinha today met the state electoral officer Sunil Gupta and demanded that the TMC should be declared as a terrorist organisation.
 Cadre officer to head Army Aviation Corps
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 29
The Army Aviation Corps (AAC), a combat support arm, will now be headed by a Lieutenant General belonging to the corps. Earlier, the AAC Director General (DG) at Army Headquarters was a Lieutenant General from another arm, since the senior most AAC, holding the post of Additional DG, could not go beyond the rank of Major General on account of the relatively smaller size of the corps.

Directing the Central Government to move the vacancy of the AAC Director General from the general cadre to the permanent cadre of the AAC “forthwith”, the Armed Forces Tribunal has also ordered that a special selection board be convened preferably before November 15, to consider eligible AAC officers for promotion to the rank of Lieutenant General.

One of the youngest arms of the Army, AAC operates helicopters to provide tactical air support to Army formations, carrying out anti-tank strikes, surveillance, airlift of troops and equipment and casualty evacuation.

Maj Gen PK Bharali, ADG Army Aviation, had moved the Tribunal contending that the Central Government had released 20 new vacancies for Lieutenant Generals in 2008 and the appointment of DG Army Aviation was to be made a cadre appointment. He had staked his claim to the post on account of being the senior-most AAC cadre officer.

A 1977 seniority officer, Major General Bharali had pointed out that his name was not considered for promotion to the rank of Lieutenant General by the special selection board held for non-general cadre officers in April 2013 on the grounds that the AAC was a “minor corps.” Consequently to a study undertaken by the Army that showed that the strength of the ACC had reached 650 pilots, the government finally approved the transfer of the vacancy of DG Army Aviation to the permanent cadre of AAC.

He was thereafter considered for promotion in October 2013, but not approved. His name was again omitted from consideration in the board held in April 2014 on the grounds that the post of DG was shown as a general cadre vacancy and not a cadre vacancy.

The Tribunal, in his orders a few days ago, held that the rational of the respondents to determine the cadre strength of the AAC and whether he could be headed by a cadre officer was contradictory and discriminatory in nature. The Tribunal observed that the respondents’ themselves were not sure of figures relating to cadre strength and comparison with other arms and corps and the whole exercise undertaken by them was not based on any cogent reason and was contrary to the decision taken by the government when the post of DG was sanctioned.

AFT orders special board to select Lt Gen

    AFT directs the Centre to convene a special selection board before November 15 to consider eligible Army Aviation Corps (AAC) officers for promotion to the rank of Lieutenant General
    Earlier, the AAC Director General (DG) was a Lieutenant General from another arm, since the AAC cadre officer could not go beyond the rank of Major General due to the smaller size of the corps
Keep watch on Afghan situation
Transitional period poses serious threats
Inder Malhotra
ON Sunday at a ceremony - not announced in advance for fear of an attack - Britain and the United States handed over to the Afghan government and its security forces two major and adjacent military bases in Helmand province of the country which has seen the worst of fighting during the 13 years of war and where the rebellious Taliban are still in a strong position. Between them the US base named Leatherneck and the British one called Camp Bastion formed the international coalition's regional headquarters and housed 40,000 military personnel and civilian contractors all of whom were flown back home by Monday evening. For Britain it was the end of its combat role in Afghanistan. The British Defence Secretary used the occasion to announce that no British troops would be sent back to Afghanistan ever. For America, the combat role will end in two months. But, under the Afghanistan-US Defence Security Agreement (DSA), around 10,000 American troops will remain in the war-ravaged country up to the end of 2016.

The departing international coalition seems encouraged because it sees the formation of a government of national unity in Afghanistan - after a hotly disputed election -- as a good augury. That would surely so if it lasts. Many are doubtful if it can because the formation of the united government is less voluntary and more America-brokered. President Ashraf Ghani lived in America and worked for the World Bank. His rival, Abdullah Abdullah, has been made the CEO for which there is no provision in the Afghan constitution. Many of his strong supporters, belonging to ethnicities other than Pushtoon, are opposed to this arrangement. Should it break down, Afghanistan would return to armed conflict among warlords. But let us hope that this danger would be averted. But there will still be several other challenges.

For one thing, the Afghan National Army - which, along with the police - numbers 3,50,000, is American-trained, like the Iraqi Army that has virtually collapsed. Could the ANA meet the same fate, especially because it does not have air cover, and is unlikely to get it? Its other equipment is also inadequate. The international community has therefore to do something to ensure the safety of post-US Afghanistan. The Afghan economy is in bad shape. According to the World Bank, the rate of growth of the Afghan GDP plummeted from 14. 4 per cent in 2012 to 3.1 per cent in 2013 and is likely to be 3.5 per cent this year. No wonder President Ghani has rushed to a three-day visit to China where he will meet his opposite number, Xi Jinping, signalling the pivotal role he expects Beijing to play not only in economic reconstruction of Afghanistan but also in a strategic foreign policy aimed at building peace in a region torn by war and conflict for three decades. China does have a stake in peace and stability in Afghanistan where it owns one of the biggest copper mines in the world and is waiting to start operating it. Also Beijing knows that the rebels in its Xinjiang province get much assistance from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. To this extent India’s and China’s interest is the same. But we have to be watchful about what China actually does there, as we have difficulties with Chinese activities in other neighbouring countries.

Time was when the US used to criticise this country for not helping it to overcome its biggest strategic problem, Afghanistan, by settling all its numerous disputes with Pakistan and letting America leave after settling the Afghan imbroglio. Later, however, Washington welcomed India's “larger footprint” in Afghanistan. For it saw how popular India and Indians were there because this country was concentrating on Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development, building its parliament, university and other institutions and providing electricity to even its remote villages. Altogether, India has invested two billion dollars in Afghanistan. It has also trained Afghan military officers in Delhi, not Kabul.

As for Pakistan the wide world knew that all through his dictatorial rule Gen Pervez Musharraf was “double-crossing” the US and yet he and his successors, operating through the notorious Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), got away with this perfidy. All through these years the then Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, went on protesting publicly not only against Pakistan unleashing on his country its officially sponsored and nurtured terrorists but also for having become a haven for terrorists of all kinds. Neither the US nor Pakistan cared. The bitter truth is from the very beginning Pakistan has treated Afghanistan as its backyard that gave it “strategic depth” against India. After the first Afghan jihad when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan to preserve a government friendly to it, it was Pakistan that organised the Taliban. It has also played host to the Taliban’s icon, Maulana Umar.

Today Pakistan’s main objective is to ensure that after America's full exit Afghanistan is ruled by the Taliban friendly to Islamabad. It might be making sweet noises but its actions are totally opposite. In fact, its determination to keep India out of Afghanistan and virtually rule Afghanistan is much the stronger than before. Indeed, its enmity with India has increased greatly, as its aggressive behaviour along the Line of Control and the international border which the state of Jammu and Kashmir demonstrates.

The United States knows and witnesses all this. But so great is President Barack Obama's need to cut his losses and get out of Afghanistan - the American people are fed up with America's longest war that has cost it heavily in both blood and treasure - that he is prepared to pay any price to Pakistan for the latter's help to enable the US to wash its hands of Afghanistan. This is the source of the greatest trouble and challenge we are going to face fairly soon. I hope our policymakers have noticed that in the list of Pakistani terrorist outfits mentioned in the Modi-Obama joint declaration there is no mention of Taliban.
Ladakh organises inter school competitions to celebrate spirit of Indian army - See more at:
Inter school competitions like debating and painting contests, Polo, Tent Pegging and Archery were some of the events held in Ladakh during the last 20 days so as to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of the Indian Army troops and the local people in defending Ladakh against Pakistani raiders after the 1947 partition.

The celebrations commenced with an inter school competition including football, volleyball, handball matches, besides debate and painting contests which were organized at Ladakh Scouts Regimental Centre, Phyang, from October 8-10, said a Defence Ministry spokesman Lt Colonel Manish Mehta here. These were followed by T-20 cricket tournament at the newly constructed picturesue Colonel Sonam Wangchuk, MVC, Stadium. Eight teams from all over Ladakh region participated in the tournament, he added.

Polo, Tent Pegging and Archery competitions were also conducted from October 20 – 26. While eight teams from entire Ladakh participated in Polo event, 23 teams participated in Archery and 21 riders in Tent Pegging Competition. The grand finale of the event was conducted on October 26 and it was witnessed by a huge audience, the spokesman added.

Various events conducted during the grand finale included 16 kms and five kms run for both men and women, pipe band display by Pipe Band of Ladakh Scouts, cultural programme by students of TCV (SOS) School, melodious “Op Sadbhavana’’ song by Ladakh’s famous singer Phunchok Ladakhi. The main attraction of the event was finals of Polo match between teams of  Drass (A) and Ladakh Scouts (Red), the spokesman said, adding that the keenly contested match was won by latter by a comfortable margin of 12-01.

Pointing out that all these events were conducted by Army under Op Sadbhavana to give an impetus to traditional sports of Ladakh especially Polo and Archery, the spokesman said that in a departure from  the usual trend, the chief guest of the grand finale event was neither any officer from military or civil administration, nor politician. The chief guest and the guests of honour were those war veterans and war heroes who fought against Pakistani raiders in 1947 as part of “Nubra Guards’’ under the son of the soil Colonel Chhewang Rinchen, MVC. Seven such war heroes were present to grace the occasion including Honorary Lieutenant Sonam Joldan (chief guest), Padam Shree Sonam Wangial, Lance Naik Sonam Stobdan, Lance Naik Mutup Gurmet, besides Havaldar Punchok Stobdan, and Naik Dorjey Phunchok (Both Vir Chakra), and Naik Abdul Rahman, Sena Medal.

At the end of the event, Rigzin Spalpar, Chief Executive Councillor of the Leh Hill Development Council, felicitated the war heroes and conveyed his appreciation to the entire Fire and Fury Corps and Ladakh Scouts Regimental Centre for successfuln conduct of the event. A memorial service was also held at Leh war memorial where floral tributes were paid to brave martyrs by senior army and civil officers, besides veteran soldiers, gallantry award winners and veer naris.

Speaking on the occasion, Lt General B S Nego, General Officer Commanding of the Fire and Fury Corps stated that the Defenders of Ladakh Remembrance
- See more at:
Day celebrations would be held every year.

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