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Monday, 1 December 2014

From Today's Papers - 01 Dec 2014

Rafale deal on agenda as Parrikar meets French counterpart today
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 30
When Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar meets his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian tomorrow, he faces a harsh reality; almost 40 per cent of the Indian Air Force fighter jet fleet is on its ‘last legs’ and needs an immediate replacement. A decision to buy jets from France is pending since January 2012, stuck in ‘modalities’ of transfer of technology.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) selected French company Dassualt Aviation’s Rafale jets out of six-global bidders in January 2012 to meet its need of 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA). The visiting French defence minister will raise the issue to conclude the deal during his two-day visit to New Delhi tomorrow.

Parrikar and his team of officials, expectedly, will be looking to provide the IAF with the necessary firepower to deal with any eventuality in view of the unfriendly neighborhood. Parrikar, who joined as defence minister on November 10, will have to balance the ‘make in India’ mantra with the reality of international arms deals.

The MoD is yet to accept the terms proposed by Dassault. The draft contract is 90 per cent complete. The first 18 jets are to be imported and the rest manufactured under licence by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). In January 2012, four sub committees were formed to study the contract. Its complexities are huge like transfer of technology, pricing, work share between Dassualt and HAL.

Sources said Dassault was reluctant to accept responsibility for the 108 fighters to be built by HAL as far as liquidity damages and timelines for production are concerned. This is the main issue stalling the deal as the French company has made it clear that it could logically not guarantee what HAL produces. In fact, the last 60 planes are slated to have 90 per cent Indian content.

The French company wants clauses on access, inspection and post-manufacture testing and has also asked HAL to clarify the specifics of similar liability clauses in other such comparable deals like HAL's Sukhoi-30 MKI licence production deal with Russia.

On October 4, IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha sounded an alarm saying most of the fleet of fighter jets was “on its last legs”. The ongoing acquisition programmes to replace these aging jets with new ones are running years behind schedule while the ongoing mid-life upgrade of existing fleets of MiG 29, Jaguar and the Mirage 2000 has slowed down.

“There is a delay in each and every project (for fighter jets)… We have lost timelines, overruns are much more than they should have been. It is definitely a matter of concern”, the IAF Chief has warned.

At present, India has 34 fighter jet squadrons (16-18 planes in each) against the projected need of 45 squadrons. Without Rafale, the IAF will have to continue to fly its fleet of MiG 21s and MiG 27s for longer periods.

Even if India inks the contact now, it would take three-four years for the first squadron of Rafale to arrive and another seven-eight years for the balance of the aircraft.
Pak at it again, fires at BSF posts in Samba

Tribune News Service

Samba, November 30
In yet another ceasefire violation, Pakistan resorted to firing on border out posts (BoPs) along the international border (IB) in Samba on Sunday.

“Pakistan Rangers resorted to small-arms firing at New SP Khora BoP along the IB in Samba at 11.30 am today. The BSF troops guarding the border also retaliated,” a BSF spokesman said, adding that “there was no loss of life or injury to anyone in the firing”.

The ceasefire violation comes 72 hours after the encounter in the Arnia sector of Jammu in which 11 people were killed, including four militants.
IB chief for intelligence sharing to tackle terror
Raises concern over section of Indian youths joining Jihadi groups
Bijay Sankar Bora

Tribune News Service

Guwahati, November 29
Director of Intelligence Bureau (IB) Syed Asif Ibrahim today said effective intelligence sharing with neighbouring countries would go a long way in helping the country to tackle threats from global terror groups such as the Al-Qaida and ISIS.

Welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the two-day 49th annual conclave of DGPs/IGPs of state police forces and central police organisations, the IB chief raised concern over a section of Indian youths joining global jihadi groups and moving to conflict zones.

"The rapid territorial gain and the influence of caliphate not only glamorises ISIS’ image but also enhances its capability," he said.

Ibrahim said a splinter group of the Indian Mujahideen operating in the Afghanistan-Pak region has announced its support to the ISIS. The Al-Qaida has announced the formation of its Indian sub-continent wing, specifically targeting India.

"We have deliberated on this serious issue at this conclave yesterday and felt that the threat is likely to accentuate further in future," he said. “We need to formulate collective response against radicalism involving community leaders to reject jihadi propaganda. Already prominent members of the social organisations, clerics and seminaries have condemned jihadi activities as un-Islamic,” the IB director said.

He pointed out that only a handful of youth from the country could be so far lured by jihadi groups compared to European countries from where large numbers of youth have joined global jihadi groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda that were of grave concern for the country.

Ibrahim said in the hinterland of the country, effort of Pakistan and Pakistan-sponsored groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and SIMI to organise violent attacks on India has been ongoing on.

The IB chief informed that the DGPs conclave felt the need for further fine tuning of anti-Maoists strategy though the Maoist movement was on the wane. “There is need to adequately empower the district police tackle Maoists whole special training should be imparted to Central forces to deal with Left wing extremists,” he said.
CRPF DG retires, no successor yet

New Delhi, November 30
CRPF Chief Dilip Trivedi today retired from service even as the government is yet to appoint a new Director General for the country's largest paramilitary force.

1978-batch UP cadre IPS officer Trivedi, who flew down from Guwahati to the force headquarters here after attending the two-day DGPs and IGs conference, was seen off by senior officials of the force.
He headed the Central Reserve Police Force for close to 15-months.  Special DG of the force RC Tayal has been named by the Home Ministry as the acting chief till a successor to Trivedi is appointed.— PTI
Forces battle shortage of 'fighting rank' officers
 NEW DELHI: It's the young officers who lead troops into battle, fly fighters to bomb targets or command submarines that silently prowl underwater to unleash havoc on enemy forces. But the Indian armed forces continue to grapple with huge shortages in the "fighting ranks" of its officer cadres.

Latest statistics tabled by defence minister Manohar Parrikar in Parliament show that virtually all the shortages in the armed forces are in the "non-select ranks" of Lt-Colonels (Commander in Navy, Wing Commander in IAF) and below.

The 11.77 lakh strong Indian Army, the second-largest in the world after China's People's Liberation Army, for instance, is short of 7,989 officers in its total "authorised strength" of 47,574. Alarmingly, the shortfall is 7,764 among Lt-Cols, Majors, Captains and Lieutenants.

"An infantry battalion is authorised 21 officers but most are making do with a dozen or so. Apart from the general shortage, officers also have to leave their battalions for regular courses," said an officer.

The shortfall of Lieutenant-Commanders and below in the Navy stands at 1,499, while it is 357 in the ranks of Wing Commanders and below in IAF. But there is no dearth of brass in the "top-heavy" armed forces. The Army, for instance, now has as many as 90 Lt-Generals, 297 Major-Generals and 1,127 Brigadiers.

Jawans, of course, pose no problem in a developing country like India, where unemployment is rampant and a government job with pension the ultimate ambition. "We get around 34 lakh candidates in recruitment rallies around the country every year for just about 60,000-70,000 vacancies for jawans," said an officer.

The worry is in the officer ranks. Glitzy advertising campaigns to attract youngsters to become "officers and gentlemen" are obviously not doing the trick. "The 6th Pay Commission has made military salaries more attractive than ever before but they are far outstripped by the pay packages and perks brandished by the corporate sector," said a senior officer.

More importantly, the "perceived high degree of risk" in military careers, whether it is battling militants or flying ageing aircraft, the frequent disruption in family life and poor promotional avenues in the steeply-pyramidal structures of the armed forces, all combine to dissuade youngsters with "officer-like qualities" from joining the forces.

The lack of adequate officer training capacity in the armed forces is also a factor, even though all the three Services have now ramped up their academies. Apart from the tri-Service National Defence Academy at Kadakwasla, the Army now has the Officers' Training Academy (OTA) in Gaya to add to the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun and OTA in Chennai.

The armed forces, however, are still reluctant to induct women officers in larger numbers, even though they are now given permanent commission in some select branches. There are just about 1,300 women officers in Army, 1,400 in IAF and 350 in Navy despite them being inducted in the armed forces since 1992-93. They, of course, are not allowed to serve in combat arms like infantry, artillery or armoured corps, nor serve on board operational warships or fly fighter jets.
Welfare steps for armed personnel to be fast tracked: Manohar Parrikar
Panaji: Concerned over nearly 450 suicide cases reported in the armed forces in the last three years, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday said reasons for this are being investigated and that welfare measures for personnel will be fast-tracked.

"This is a man management issue which needs to be resolved in different ways, including counselling, quick redressal mechanism and more tribunals to hear the cases," he told reporters here.

Welfare measures for the defence personnel will be implemented at a fast pace to ensure that suicides are completely stopped, he said.

The Defence Minister said he has asked officials to go into the reasons behind the suicides.

According to official figures, there have been 449 cases of suicides reported in the armed forces since 2011.

Isolation and living away from families are among the reasons that spark suicides, he said adding that all welfare measures would be in place in a time-bound manner.

A total of 99 suicide cases have been reported from the armed forces this year alone besides three cases of fratricide.

Army reported the highest number suicides with 76 cases this year followed by Air Force with 23. While Army reported two cases of fratricide this year, Air Force witnessed one such incident.

The Army, which the is the largest of the three Services, has topped the list of suicide cases since 2011 though the number has come down.

While there were 105 cases of suicides recorded by Army in 2011, it came down to 95 in 2012 and 86 in 2013.

Parrikar had earlier told Parliament that among the reasons for such incidents were "occupational hazards (long tenures of continuous deployment) family issues, domestic problems, marital discord, perceived grievances, personal issues, mental built, financial problems and inability to withstand stress."

Some of the measures taken by the government to prevent such incidents include improvement in living and working conditions, additional family accommodation, liberalised leave policy, provision of psychological counseling and conduct of yoga and meditation as part of unit routine, he said.

The issues like family accommodation for married personnel should be sorted out quickly, he said.

"In Goa Naval area, there are 700-800 quarters which are being constructed for married couples. The work is going on at a slow pace. I will be holding review of such projects across the country," Parrikar said.

He said eight minesweeper naval vessels will be built by Goa Shipyard Limited with maximum indigenous technology under the 'Make in India' campaign.

"In principle it has been decided that the work for constructing eight minesweepers would be awarded to Goa Shipyard Limited. This would be under 'Make in India' campaign," he said.
Mechanism soon to address Army suicides
 Emphasising on his focus on Army welfare, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday said when it comes to the country’s defence, military personnel behind them are more important than their weapons.

Answering questions at his press conference in the city, during his week-end visit to his home State, Mr. Parrikar broadly blamed man-management issues for the spate of suicides in India’s armed forces. He also promised a “quick redressal mechanism” to be put in place to handle these concerns on priority basis.

“I believe that more than armaments, the person behind it is a stronger defence for the country,” Mr. Parrikar remarked. While he is in the process of finding out the reasons behind the suicides, issues like prolonged deployment in remote areas are said to be the issues involved. He said that working out welfare measures and quick redressal mechanisms for solving issues of personnel were being prioritised.

Ninety-nine soldiers committed suicide in 2014. “According to me, it is a man-management issue. I think it has to be resolved in two-three ways. Counselling, addressing issues of service personnel and quick redressal mechanism are the solutions.

“More tribunals, more informal arrangements need to be created to solve the problems,” Mr. Parrikar said.

He is also attending to issues like providing proper family accommodation, which could resolve the issue of isolation, which soldiers are known to feel when they are away from their family for long periods.

When asked about cases of suicide by soldiers where possible harassment by his superior officer is suspected, Mr. Parrikar said that while one cannot intervene in inter-personal relationships at every point, “by making a redressal mechanism, they can be resolved”

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