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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

From Today's Papers - 10 Dec 2014

Govt ignoring ‘one rank, one pension’ scheme: Cong

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 9

The Congress today accused the BJP-led Central Government of ignoring the ‘one rank, one pension’ (OROP) scheme for retired defence personnel.

Raising the issue in the Lok Sabha today, Congress MP from Rohtak Deepender Hooda said the OROP had been announced in the interim Budget in February this year, but was yet to be implemented.

“The government must clarify its stand at the earliest and must not delay in implementing the OROP scheme,” Hooda said while advising against any attempt to dilute the original meaning of the OROP as defined by the petitions committee of the Rajya Sabha. “The OROP was approved by the UPA in February 2014. This scheme has widespread support from all political parties; the Prime Minister has repeatedly promised to implement it. Yet the OROP is to be implemented, despite nine months having passed since it was announced in February. I am told that one of the sticking issues remains the ‘exact definition of OROP’.

In February, while announcing the scheme, the UPA government had accepted the Koshiyari Committee’s recommendation on the definition of the one rank, one pension.
Naval variant _of LCA Tejas to _be tested today

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 9

In an important milestone, the naval variant of light combat aircraft (LCA) ‘Tejas’ will tomorrow undergo shore-based test to check its compatibility with sea-borne aircraft carriers.

The plane has been built by the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, a company of the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The tests will be carried out at the Indian Navy’s specially designed shore-based test facility (SBTF) in Goa. The facility has a ramp – to mimic the one on aircraft carriers – which facilitates ski-jump style take-off and also has arrested landing facility for aircraft. The same parameters and method is used to fly and land fighter jets from the deck of aircraft carriers.

Sources said the naval variant of the Tejas has arrived at Goa and was undergoing pre-flight check for the tests to start. The aircraft will be based on indigenously built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. The 40,000-tonne warship has been launched at sea and its outfitting is on. Naval pilots trained at the same facility to practice their skills on the Russian built MiG29K fighter jets based on the carrier, INS Vikramaditya.
Harnessing use of social media will be Army's biggest challenge in coming years
Fighting a well-trained, heavily-armed enemy is routine for the Indian Army in Kashmir. It, however, appears clueless in the face of an almost daily ambush by warriors of the social media.

While brave troops eliminated six suicide attackers in Uri on Friday, December 5, in less than six hours, the army leadership is fighting a losing battle of perception triggered by a couple of WhatsApp messages apparently sent by junior army officers.

The message, referring to the Uri attack and the heavy initial casualties suffered by the army reads: 'As per reports, soldiers on the sentry duty on the army camp did not fire upon the approaching terrorist vehicle due to caution imposed on them after the Anantnag incident.'

The message continues: 'When (the) Anantnag incident took place last month, the corps commander of the 15 Corps and army commander of the Northern Command had both called it a mistake... Should not the Army Cdr (commander) and Corps cdr (commander) consider resigning for this goof up.'

'Generals should stop playing to (the) gallery and mind their own business and allow soldiers to do their job.'

Perhaps aware of this perception fuelled by the WhatsApp message and the earlier criticism by veterans about the army admitting that its troops had made a mistake in killing two teenaged boys, the Northern Army Commander, Lieutenant General D S Hooda on Saturday wrote to all the divisional commanders in Jammu and Kashmir to adopt a new approach to fighting Pakistan's proxy war and make sure junior officers and men do not fall prey to 'messages that sway sentiments.'

'The print, electronic and social media are powerful tools which sway not only public opinion, but also the sentiments of our own officers and men,' General Hooda in his letter said.
'Let us not fall prey to them. The only way to counter this is by our own courage of conviction that what we are doing is professionally correct and honourable,' the general added.
'The army is deployed in J&K to do a job and we will do it to the best of our ability. Mistakes will happen. Let me assure you that I have a clear understanding of the difficulties under which we operate and that nobody will be unfairly harmed. This clear message must go out to all units.'

General Hooda's concern is not misplaced. For the past couple of years, the armed forces in general and the army in particular are faced with increasing intrusion of social media in its internal discourse.

Senior officers have often spoken about several instances of unverified, half-true and distorted reports quickly spreading across units and formations, thanks to the proliferation of Twitter and WhatsApp platforms.

Many examples abound:

    During the infamous beheading incident in Poonch in January 2013, Twitter messages generated a frenzy of extreme opinions.
    Portions of an unusual internal lecture by the commandant of a premier training institute were circulated on Whatsapp, embarrassing him.
    A critical comment -- later found to false -- about the members of the 7th Pay Commission 'gallivanting' and picnicking in Ladakh raced through Google groups and Facebook pages three-four months ago.
    In at least half a dozen cases in the Indian Air Force its personnel were found to have been 'trapped' by adversaries (read Pakistan's ISI) while chatting on Facebook.

Alarmed by these and many more such incidents, the military is searching for the right answers, but in absence of a coherent 'social media' policy, none of the services have been able to device an appropriate response so far.

One suggestion has been to open dedicated Facebook pages for formations and employ a Twitter handle for the topmost three-star operational commanders so that they can instantly -- and internally -- communicate the correct position to officers and men.
For instance, the Northern Army Commander can have a 'bulletin board' or a Twitter handle on the army's 'intranet' to clarify matters or issue a statement to put things in perspective.
In absence of such a mechanism, senior officers admit, they have to depend upon the media to convey their thoughts.

"The media does not always play ball or carry the statement in full even if we issue a clarification, further distorting the message," a top army officer confessed to me last month.
Even in the Uri incident, veterans point out that the initial casualties suffered by the army were part due to bad luck and part because of the suicidal nature of the attack and not due to any restraint imposed on troops.

"To link the deaths in Uri to the earlier stand taken by the army in the Anantnag/Badgam incident is stretching the reality," a veteran commander says. But such is the nature of the social media beast that it has forced the army to fight a battle of perception both within the force and outside.

With increasing use of social media for instant communication, the services better find a quick solution to the challenge they face or else continue to remain on the back foot despite doing sterling work in combating the proxy war in Kashmir
Kazakhstan army chief hopes to boost defence ties during six-day visit to India
New Delhi, Dec. 9 (ANI): Kazakhstan's Army Chief, Colonel General Zhasuzakov Saken Adilkhanovich, who is on a six-day India visit, hopes to use his stay to enhance bilateral defence cooperation between the two countries.

Colonel General Adilkhanovich, who arrived in India on Sunday, was received by Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha and given a ceremonial guard of honour.

As per an Indian embassy release, an inter-governmental commission was formed between India-Kazakhstan in 1992 and has been instrumental in developing bilateral trade, economic, scientific, technological, industrial and cultural cooperation.

Major commodities of export from India to Kazakhstan are tea, pharmaceuticals, medical equipments, machinery, tobacco, valves and consumer Items etc. Major items of import by India are asbestos, soft wheat, steel, aluminum, wool and raw hides.
Private firms in India play a measly role in arming forces
NEW DELHI: From Boeing to Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems to Airbus, the private sector dominates arms production the world over. The reverse is true in India, with the public sector continuing to huff and puff but still unable to rid the country of the dubious tag of being the world's largest arms importer.

Latest statistics, tabled by defence minister Manohar Parikkar in Parliament on Tuesday, show the share of the Indian private sector in providing equipment to the armed forces was a measly 3-4% over the last three years.

Take the Rs 36,918 crore spent on capital acquisitions for the IAF in 2013-2014. While the imports stood at Rs 20,928 crore (56.69%), the public sector delivered equipment worth Rs 15,447 crore (41.84%) with the private sector contributing just Rs 544 crore (1.47%). Similarly, the private sector's share for the Army, in turn, was just 1.91% in 2013-2014.

Experts say greater participation by Indian private sector companies, either alone or in joint ventures with global armament firms, is urgently required if India wants to build a strong defence-industrial base (DIB) in the years ahead.

The Modi government promises to do just that. With India attracting a paltry Rs 24.36 crore ($4.94 million) as FDI in the defence sector in the last 14 years, the FDI cap has now been hiked to 49% and the "Make in India" policy is being aggressively pursued.

But will it work? "The increase in FDI to 49% is a recent policy...its impact will be felt after a couple of years," said Parrikar. The defence acquisitions council has also approved direct defence procurements worth around Rs 75,000 crore since the Modi government came to power. "Rs 65,000 crore is for 'Make in India' or 'Buy and Make in India', whereas only Rs 10,000 crore is for 'Buy Global'...this is a major shift," he added.

The defence ministry is also working towards streamlining the complicated "Make" procedure for indigenous R&D, development and production of weapon systems. This will include the government funding 80% of the development cost of a weapon prototype, with the industry chipping in with 20%, in "long-gestation and high technological risk projects".

But it will take a lot of doing. On one hand, DRDO and its 50 labs, five defence PSUs, four shipyards and 39 ordnance factories continue to fail to deliver the goods for the armed forces. On the other, the private sector is yet to make any substantial contribution since the defence production sector was opened up in 2001-2002.

"The government's flip-flops and the strong PSU lobby have discouraged the private sector from jumping into defence manufacturing in a big way till now. For instance, the move to accord the Raksha Udyog Ratna status to selected private companies, and treat them at par with defence PSUs, was junked under pressure," said a senior officer.
Indian armed forces short of 9,845 officers, says govt
New Delhi: The Indian armed forces are short of 9,845 officers, and the government said on Tuesday that it had taken several steps to overcome the situation.
The highest shortage, as of 1 July this year, was in the army: 7,899 officers, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told the Rajya Sabha. This was followed by the navy (1,499 officers) and air force (357).

He said the government had taken a number of measures to encourage youths to join the armed Forces.

These include sustained image projection and publicity to create awareness about military jobs and the advantages of taking up "a challenging and satisfying career", he said in a statement.

The government was also making armed forces jobs attractive, he said.

The government had implemented the recommendation of the Sixth Central Pay Commission with improved pay structure, additional family accommodation for married personnel and better promotion prospects.

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