Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Saturday, 13 December 2014

From Today's Papers - 13 Dec 2014

Shaking hands, signing deals
India and Russia build on old ties
President Vladimir Putin's one-day visit to India has achieved much. Prime Minister Narendra Modi reassured the Russian President that despite many contenders, Russia will remain India's top defence supplier, and the two countries have signed major deals in nuclear power, oil and defence. On the anvil are 12 nuclear reactors to be built by the state-owned Rosatom, and in a nod to the PM's 'Make in India' policy, the assembly of 400 the Ka-226T multi-role helicopters. A 10-year crude supply deal has also been inked. India has a pressing need for energy, and Russia has agreed to provide it. Direct sale of rough diamonds, too, will help Indian diamond-cutting businesses.
Although both Moscow and New Delhi have moved on from the days of Soviet-era bear hugs, there is a growing recognition of how better ties can fulfil mutual needs. Putin has been aggressively seeking to improve ties with the East, especially in the wake of economic sanctions that have been imposed by the West after what amounted to the Russian annexation of Crimea and its role in an uprising in Ukraine. While Russia would appreciate India's restraint in criticising its actions, the West, particularly the US, is unhappy about it. The appearance of the Russian-backed leader of Crimea in New Delhi at this critical time was unfortunate from the South Block's point of view.
Even as the Russian President flew back, preparations are afoot to greet President Barack Obama, who will be the first American President to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade. The US President, too, has shown a heightened interest in the East and will seek to further deepen strategic and trade ties between the two countries. The task of balancing the relationship between two friends who are antagonistic towards each other will be tough, but it is one that India has performed over the years. Moscow and Washington have both played important roles in India's development, and will continue to do so, even as they joust with each other.
17% shortage of officers in armed forces, says Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar
There is 17% shortage of officers in armed forces and government has set a target of 10 years to fill all the vacancies, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said today.

Parrikar said in Lok Sabha during Question Hour that at present government is hiring additional one per cent officers every year and in next ten years the problem of shortage of officers will be resolved.

The Defence Minister said the policy of recruiting officers through Short Service Commission into armed forces was being reviewed and indicated that the present rules of retaining them for 14 years may be reduced as the "original idea was different".

Parrikar said recruitment in the armed forces, including technical/non-technical and medical officers is based on merit and is equally open to every citizen of the country without any discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, tribe or religion provided the candidate meets the laid down age, physical, medical and educational criteria.

The Minister said in case of Army and Navy, recruitment of defence personnel below officers rank from different states is being done in proportion to the Recruitment Male Population (RMP) of those states.

"RMP factor for each state is computed in the case of Army and a Naval Recruitment Index is computed for each state in the case of Navy. In case of Air Force and Armed Forces Medical Services, recruitment is not based on RMP," he said.

Parrikar said since the criteria for recruitment is merit and candidates have to meet laid down age, physical, medical and educational criteria, the policy has no adverse impact on the availability of competent personnel in defence forces.

"As RMP policy gives fair and equitable representation to all states, there is no discrimination among states," he said.
Clear-cut policy next month on engaging arms representatives: Manohar Parrikar
New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday announced that a "clear-cut" policy will be unveiled next month on engaging "representatives" for arms purchases that will also provide for punitive action against firms found involved in kickbacks.

Expressing concern over long delays in defence procurement, Parrikar promised a raft of measures to ensure transparency and at the same time speeding up such purchases to modernise the armed forces.

The Defence Minister said blacklisting of defence suppliers to deal with graft was not the only solution and indicated going for stiff penalties instead against erring firms found involved in corrupt practices like kickbacks.

"We should be in a position to have a very clear cut policy by January on representatives and on blacklisting. What does blacklisting mean. How far we can take it forward," Parrikar said.

In an indirect reference to alleged graft in defence purchases, he said the last decade was a "'loss decade' for the armed forces, but 'gain decade' for many others."

India's military procurements have been dogged by long delays and allegations of graft and many defence experts had suggested legalising "agents" for speedy purchase of military hardware.

The former Goa chief minister, who assumed charge of Defence Ministry a month ago, said having "representative" with a very clear method of payment and fees was a better solution to the defence forces than delaying the procurement procedures.

"There should be a very clear agreement deposited with the Defence Ministry in advance. Very heavy penalty (should be imposed) if you violate that," he said while addressing Aaj Tak Agenda programme.

On implementation of the 'One Rank, One Pension' policy, Parrikar said an announcement will be made within next 4-8 weeks. "I will not drag the issue for long. I will sort it out at the earliest. If I could take the satisfaction level (of the former armed personnel) to 80-90 per cent, that should be a good enough solution."

'One Rank, One Pension' has been a long-standing demand of the over two million ex-servicemen of India. It seeks to ensure that a uniform pension is paid to the defence personnel retiring at the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.

On issues like imposing penalty on firms found guilty of wrongdoings, he said it was his "loud thinking" and a policy will be put in place next month. 

Underlining the need for speeding up defence procurement, the Minister said the government was working on ensuring transparency and that delay in decision-making allows entry of more agents.

Observing that blacklisting was not the only solution, the Defence Minister said Italian defence multinational Finmeccanica, which was blacklisted, has around 39 subsidiaries and wondered whether it was viable to not buy arms from any one of them.

Expressing concern over the death of army personnel in various accidents, Parrikar said he will not allow any carelessness.

"Give me some time, I will establish accountability. I cannot lose soldiers while (they are) loading the gun. I promise accountability in Defence Ministry," he said.

On his predecessor AK Antony, Parrikar, a Mumbai IIT graduate in metallurgical engineering, said, "I agree that Antony may have a clean image. That does not mean the reflection of cleanliness in the actual procurement. To remove dirt, you have to step into it."

Asserting that NDA government will bring transparency into defence purchases and, at the same time, ensure speedy procurement, he said, "There is no solution only by remaining honest."

He also talked about the illegal practice of commissioning in defence deals in the past.

"I have been told that there are hundreds of people in Delhi who, by becoming defence agents, acquired lavish bungalows," he said. 

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal