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Sunday, 30 November 2014

From Today's Papers - 30 Nov 2014

Rajnath says Pak involved in Kashmir terror attacks
Upsurge in global Islamic terrorism a challenge: IB chief
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, November 29
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today denounced Pakistan for keeping Jammu and Kashmir on the boil and expressed concern over the global upsurge in Islamic terrorism. He said Pakistan continued to meddle in Jammu and Kashmir where, he said, there had been a marked improvement in the situation.

Welcoming Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh at the 49th annual conference of DGPs and IGPs of all state police forces and Central police organisations, Director of the Intelligence Bureau Syed Asif Ibrahim said the upsurge in Islamic terrorism in countries such as Syria and Iraq posed a challenge for the country as vulnerable youths were being lured into the ranks of these radical groups.

Inaugurating the conference, Rajnath Singh said, “Pakistan maintains that non-state actors from that country are involved in the trouble in Jammu and Kashmir. But I want to ask Pakistan whether ISI is also a non-state actor.”

On the upsurge in global Islamic terrorism, Rajnath said, “The Indian government is deeply concerned at the rise of terrorism under the banner of ISIS in Syria and Iraq as many Indian youths have been lured into its ranks through cyber propaganda launched by the group.” The Union Home Minister called upon the police forces to stand up to the challenge posed by terror groups.

He announced Rs 50 crore to set up a National Police Memorial in New Delhi as a mark of respect for the policemen who sacrificed their lives while serving the nation.

“The South Asian wing of Al-Qaida has claimed that they made an attempt to hijack a Pakistani naval frigate sometime earlier in order to attack Indian and US naval ships at sea. Our forces and intelligence agencies should be prepared to face such challenges,” Rajnath said.

The Home Minister said though the Maoist rebellion was on the wane, there was no room for complacency. “We want Maoists to be uprooted from all parts of the country,” Rajnath said.

The IB chief said sustained operations have put Maoists on the back foot in different states in the country. “The strength of the central committee of Maoists has declined from 39 members in 2004 to 20 as on date. The recruitment by Maoists has also declined while desertion from their ranks is on the rise,” Ibrahim said.

He said the high turnout in the ongoing Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir clearly showed the improvement in the state’s security scenario.

“An atmosphere conducive for elections has been created by adequate action taken by security forces and through effective anti-infiltration measures,” said the IB chief.

Rajnath hoped the conference would work out a special strategy to tackle insurgency in the North-East where the problem stems from social conflict and under-development. “Our government is fully committed to formulating a special development package for the North-East to facilitate all-encompassing development,” he said.

“Our government is for equipping the state police forces with modern technology to improve surveillance. There is a need to tackle the cyber campaign launched by global terror groups and for improving coastal line security in the country,” the Home Minister said.
7 civilians, CRPF man injured in Srinagar grenade attack
Azhar Qadri
Tribune News Service
Srinagar, November 29
Two days ahead of the second phase of the Assembly elections in the state, suspected militants today hurled a grenade at a CRPF picket in the heavily guarded Lal Chowk area of the city, injuring seven civilians and a sub-inspector. No militant outfit has owned the responsibility for the attack.

The police said seven civilians were hit by grenade splinters and admitted to nearby hospitals. The CRPF man injured in the attack was identified as SI Hari Ram Divakar of 132 Battalion.

“There was a grenade attack around 2.20 pm. Seven civilians and a CRPF sub-inspector were injured in the attack. We are now investigating the incident,” Superintendent of Police, Srinagar East, Harmeet Singh said.

Srinagar district’s eight Assembly constituencies are going to the polls on December 14 and electioneering is already underway across the city. The attack, which targeted the CRPF picket, took place as security forces are maintaining strict vigil in the region as elections are underway and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to address a rally in the city next week.

The National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party condemned the attack and demanded an investigation into the incident.

NC spokesman Junaid Mattu said these acts would not deter people from coming out in large numbers for the polls to defeat the forces which are banking on “their collective disempowerment”. “We also demand a thorough inquiry be launched to ascertain the culprits and all possible medical help be provided to the injured,” he said.

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti termed the incident as “inhuman and unfortunate”. “People behind the crime seem hell bent upon to sabotage the ongoing poll process in the state by creating fear among people,” she said.

Lal Chowk, the commercial nerve centre of the city, is a highly guarded city-centre and under strict vigil round the clock. Immediately after the attack, security forces, including the police, rushed to the spot. The attack comes a day after a fierce gunfight between militants and security forces ended in Jammu region’s Arnia sector in which 12 persons, including five civilians, were killed.

The target of the Saturday attack was a CRPF picket, housed near the ruined Palladium cinema, which has been a constant target of militant attacks, including assaults by Fidayeen in past years. The last major attack at Lal Chowk had taken place in January 2010 when a two-member militant Fidayeen squad attempted to storm into the same CRPF picket, leading to a night-long standoff at a nearby hotel.
Karnal Sainik School a nursery of Gentlemen Cadets
Parveen Arora
Tribune News Service

Karnal, November 29
After 14 years, Sainik School, Kunjpura, has brought laurels to Karnal and Haryana by clinching the Raksha Mantri Trophy for sending the maximum number of cadets among the 25 Sainik Schools spread all over India to the National Defence Academy (NDA) in 2013-14.

The school has clinched the trophy for the eighth time. It won the award the last time in 1999-2000.

Union Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh handed over the trophy to the Principal, Group Capt LN Sharma, during the 43rd All-India Sainik Schools Principals Conference held at Sainik School, Kazhakootam, Kerala, on Friday.

“The trophy is given by Defence Ministry for sending the maximum cadets to the NDA in an academic session. Along with the trophy, Rs 1 lakh in cash was also awarded to the school. From the next session, the amount has been increased to Rs 10 lakh,” said the Principal.

This year, 13 school students were selected into the NDA. So far, the school has sent more than 800 cadets to the NDA, he said.

The Principal said the school alumni included 25 Generals, Officers of equivalent ranks in the armed forces and other prominent citizens including General Deepak Kapoor (retd), former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Vice-Chancellor of Kurukshetra University DDS Sandhu since its inception on July 24, 1961.

Bhupinder Singh Hooda, an alumnus of the school, said the school, undoubtedly, is one of the best Sainik Schools in India. "As a CM, we had given various incentives to the school. To encourage the students, we had invited former President Pratibha Patil to the school," he said.
 India wary of intrusive Pak, assertive China: IAF chief

Bengaluru, November 29
With the strategic gravity shifting from West to East, especially to Asia and Asia Pacific, "India faces security challenges in the region due to an assertive China and an intrusive Pakistan", the IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, said on Saturday.

"The situation is not good for the environment, as peaceful rise of China remains a distant dream. An assertive China is investing heavily in developing military power, especially aerospace power, laying claims on international waters, island territories and air space over South China Sea and East China Sea," Raha said during the Eighth Annual Air Chief Marshal LM Katre Memorial Lecture.

Noting that the situation in South Asia spawning Afghanistan and Pakistan was going to be delicate, especially after the withdrawal of the US-led allied forces, the chief of air staff said Pakistan was the fountainhead of terrorism, encouraging terrorist activities despite being a part of the global war on terror.

"Withdrawal of American and western forces from Afghanistan will create a very delicate situation for India in terms of some conventional threats to us. Similarly, the IS (Islamic State) gaining strength in West Asia poses another challenge for us to deal with proper planning and induction of forces, especially aerospace power," he said. Raha said China was developing capabilities to fight major conflicts over the next 35 years, as mentioned by a security analyst in Hong Kong in an article recently. — IANS
Defence Minister, See What Make-Up Artists Did
(Brinda Karat is a Politburo member of the CPI(M) and a former Member of the Rajya Sabha.)

If someone were to ask new Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar what the top brass of the Defence services has in common with the establishment of the make-up artists in Mumbai, would he find it tough to answer?

The common denominator is prejudice - unadulterated, illogical and wholly made in India. Two professions so different in nature, and yet closely bound by a similar discriminatory approach to women.

For decades, women were prohibited from becoming members of the Cine Costume and Makeup Artists Association (CMAA) which was a pre-condition for their entry into the profession. What was there about doing the makeup of artistes which men were qualified to do and women were not? The hostility to women's entry was such that it took decades and a strong woman, Charu Khanna, to challenge this blatant discrimination in the Supreme Court and get it overturned. The Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that the CMAA would have to eliminate the clause in their rules of prohibiting women from becoming members. In this particular case, the Supreme Court acted to uphold justice. One wishes they would do so in other cases too.

Let's talk about women officers in the Defence services. There aren't many of them. The army has just 3 per cent women, the Navy 2.8 per cent and the Air Force performs best with 8.5 per cent. India has one of the worst records in the world as far as recruitment in the Defence forces is concerned - worse, for example, than immediate neighbours Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

In India, women are prohibited from combat service. The reason put forth by the service chiefs before the Parliamentary Committee on Women's Empowerment was that in the case of women being captured by the enemy, the troops would be demoralized. So it is not women's safety which is the concern here but that male morale would be affected if "their" women were captured. Women as trophies for the enemy or women as symbols of the nation; nothing about the sovereign rights of women themselves.

History would have been different if the top brass of the Indian Defence services had been around when Lakshmi Bai Rani of Jhansi led her troops into a historic battle or when Begum Hazrat Mahal of Awadh fought against the British heroically.

There are of course pacifist arguments against the militarization of women, but that is another story. Here, patriarchal mindsets inevitably fall back on arguments of culture to justify keeping women out of this or that profession.

The present discrimination against women in the services is so blatant that even in non-combat zones, women face barriers. There are two aspects to this: firstly in non-combat areas, most jobs have been unreasonably kept on a woman-prohibited list, just like what the make-up artists faced. The services snubbed the Parliamentary committee, brushing aside their recommendations in meetings in 2010 and 2011 to open up more non-combat branches and also to enhance the number of women in the medical services.

The second aspect of discrimination is in the differential treatment meted out to men and women in the recruitment of what is known as short commissioned officers. In 1991, when India's gender record was under scrutiny by newly-active UN agencies, the obnoxious bar on women' s recruitment  in non-combat jobs was removed and women were recruited as short service commission (SSC) officers, but only for a period of five years. Men were also recruited as SSCs on the same terms of service.

The shortage of officers as well as the commendable role of SSCs  -  both men and women - during these years led to a revision in the period of service from five years to seven years and then upto 14 years. But whereas all women were removed from service soon after the completion of 14 years, men were given extensions and were also offered permanent commissions often in the same branches and work where the women had worked. Not only did this mean unemployment for women, but also a denial of pension and medical benefits which were available only for those who completed 20 years of service.

The situation was the same in all the three services.

Many of the women being removed were in their mid-30s and at the peak of their careers, bright, articulate, energetic, committed to serving the nation. Their records of service were excellent. There was no reason at all to deny them the same opportunities of permanent commission that the men were being offered, all, it must be stressed in non-combat roles.

Their fight to be treated on equal terms led to threats from their superiors but the women stayed the course.

The then Defence Minister Mr Anthony, in response to demands raised in Parliament, gave some assurances.

The number of departments where women could be recruited was increased marginally. It was also stated that women in some departments would be offered permanent commissions. This was a small step forward but not nearly enough because it was not with retrospective effect.

Again, just like in the case of the make-up artists, the women in the services were forced to go to court. In 2010, the Delhi High Court ruled in favour of the women. The Air Force accepted the court order and the women officers were absorbed as permanent commissioned officers. The Army refused to accept the judgment.

Mr Anthony failed to prevent them from their churlish appeal to the Supreme Court which unfortunately admitted the appeal, though it refused to grant a stay on the order. Thus although a Damocles sword hangs over the heads of the women who have completed 14 years, the Army has been unable to remove them from service.

But the worst is the Navy. They removed the women from service even while the case was pending. These nine women have been once again forced to go to the court. The three services are under the same Ministry. The three services had the same policy for short commission officers. When the Air Force has implemented the court orders, why should the army appeal and why should the navy refuse to retain the women even after the court order?

From the 29th of October 2010 till the latest date of hearing just last week, the Navy has been procrastinating, using devious methods to delay court hearings, leading to harassment of women who had served the Navy with such dedication and who have been literally thrown out, only because they are women.

Recently, the central government directed its Attorney General to advise the income tax department not to appeal against a High Court judgement which ruled in favour of Vodafone in the case of payment of a tax liability of 3,200 crores. Forget the revenue loss to the exchequer. This is considered necessary to appease foreign companies so that they invest in India.

It looks as if the government looks at judgments through a corporate lens, not a lens of social and gender justice. Otherwise why should it not give instructions to ensure that the services honour the High Court judgment in favour of women? The new Defence Minister should move swiftly. He should ensure that the Army and Navy withdraw their patriarchal petitions in the Supreme Court.

Don't shame India by continuing discriminatory practices and laws against women.
Army to train students in border areas?
NEW DELHI: Government on Friday hinted at taking up pilot projects to impart partial military training to students undergoing graduation degree in border districts.

Responding to a private member bill on providing compulsory military training in Rajya Sabha, defence minister Manohar Parrikar said that if the government can work out a module it can start this on a trial basis in certain districts "where there is enthusiasm, districts face border". He said module can be prepared for 50-60 hours training that can be done over a period of time.

"One can take it as a course; like the way history, maths etc, we can take one course of defence training. But I feel, along with this, what we need is nation building, character building," the minister said. But he ruled out any compulsory military training.

Parrikar added that after consulting members, the government will come out with an "appropriate mechanism" though it may take a few months. The bill, moved by BJP member Avinash Rai Khanna during last Parliament session proposed one-year compulsory military training in the age group of 14 and 15. Members from different political parties in the House supported the bill, which Parrikar said proved how "nationalism does not have a colour"

Though the minister appreciated the intent of the bill, he said compulsory military training was not possible since it would cost as much as Rs 60,000 crore annually. "...I would have supported the bill had I been sitting there (in opposition), but I am sitting on this side in government ....I will support the bill but I will point out issues which will create problems," Parrikar said.

He pointed out that providing military training to people in the age group of 14 and 50 is impractical. Even if government takes up the task to provide similar training to people in the age group of 17 0r 18 years to 25, it would mean training 14-15 crore eligible youth.

Asserting that nation-building and character development does not happen by military training alone, Parrikar said education system must do so, but "our teaching has slipped." He pointed out even National Cadet Corps (NCC) training has "diluted" although the strength has increased to 15.18 lakh now from 13.8 lakh 3-4 years back.

Giving a personal touch the minister said he had got admission for the National Defence Academy and then Army Corps of Engineers. "Because of some reason I could not join. So, probably, there is something genetic which attracts me to defence forces. May be that got me here," he said.

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