Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Tuesday, 30 December 2014

From Today's Papers - 30 Dec 2014

Defence projects worth Rs 1.5 lakh cr cleared this yr
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 29
The Ministry of Defence today said “Make in India” will be the way forward and the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the apex decision-making body of the Ministry, has cleared proposals worth over Rs1,50,000 crore for the services within this year alone.

Many of the equipment and platforms will be manufactured in the country, either by the public or private entities, through collaborations and tie-ups with foreign manufacturing companies. The limit of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the Defence Sector was increased to 49 per cent from the previous 26 per cent.

The Information Management and Analysis Centre – the nodal centre of the National Command Control Communications and Intelligence Network, a symbol of change for coastal security, in the wake of the 26/11 terror strike in Mumbai in 2008, has been opened.

The MoD has decided that small transport planes to replace the fleet of ageing Avro planes will be made in India and so will be the course of production for the 384 light-utility helicopters needed by the Army and Air Force. Also six submarines will be built in India at a cost. Another Rs5,000 crore was allocated to encourage research and development of new Defence systems that enhance cutting-edge technology capability in the country.

The MoD said the sudden and unprovoked attacks from the Pakistan side in the guise of armed infiltration in the LoC in Samba and later in Arnia and Poonch sectors of Jammu and Kashmir brought disquiet into the region as it resulted in civil casualties and martyrdom of soldiers.

“It it seemed the attacks were timed to derail the smooth and peaceful assembly polls in J&K where people came forward in large numbers to vote,” said the MoD while claiming that the situation on the India-China border remained mostly peaceful with the Armed Forces keeping a constant watch on all developments having bearing on India’s security.
India, South Korea strengthen defence ties
Seoul, December 29
In boost to their strategic ties, India and South Korea today decided to enhance cooperation in sectors like shipbuilding, electronics, defence production, infrastructure and energy, besides outlining mutual interest in areas of nuclear energy and cyber security.

In the eighth Joint Commission Meeting, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her South Korean counterpart Yun Byung-se deliberated on all aspects of the bilateral ties with a view to "chart out a road map" to further deepen engagement.

“Both the nations agreed that development of cooperation in the field of defence equipment and technology, as well as, sectors like shipbuilding, electronics, IT, energy and infrastructure held considerable possibilities. They reiterated mutual interest in deepening cooperation in the areas of civil nuclear energy and cyber security,” the Ministry of External Affairs said.

In her address, Swaraj called South Korea an important partner for India's economic growth and invited South Korean companies to make "bold investments" and benefit from the 'Make in India' initiative of the government.

She said South Korea and South Korean companies occupy a strategic place in India's 'Act East' initiative and that there was huge scope for greater investment in the country, particularly in the manufacturing sector.

“We invite Korean companies to build on their success in India and make bold investments to benefit from my government's focus on ‘Make in India’ which is aimed at providing necessary policy and other incentives to encourage manufacturing in India,” she said.

Yun welcomed the initiatives taken by India and agreed to encourage the South Korean industry to engage with India even "more closely". In the meeting, there was agreement on the considerable potential for further expanding bilateral economic and investment cooperation.

Swaraj also called on South Korean President Park Geun-hye. The sources said President Park welcomed the new Indian initiatives and agreed to encourage the Korean industry to engage with India even more closely.

The South Korean side reiterated a cordial invitation for an early official visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the country. Swaraj welcomed the invitation adding that both sides will work closely to ensure a productive and successful visit of Modi at a mutually convenient early date. — PTI
ECHS budget slashed over past five years

Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
The Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) is plagued by financial constraints, with revenue allocations dwindling continuously over the years and capital budget running short of functional requirements.

An analysis of the ECHS budget for the past five years has revealed that the revenue outlay from 2010-11 to 2014-15 dwindled by Rs 279 crore, Rs 609 crore, Rs 460 crore, Rs 606 crore and Rs 1,069 crore respectively. Parliament’s Standing Committee on Defence, in its report, has stated that the position for the capital budget is no better, wherein the ECHS is short of Rs 30 crore this year.

The Centre-funded scheme was launched in April 2003 to provide ex-servicemen pensioners and their dependents treatment through its own network of polyclinics,service hospitals and specifically empanelled civilian and private hospitals. It has a clientele of 44 lakh individuals.

“The ECHS is short of funds and that is a scheme where we cannot afford to move with low budgetary estimates because then it raises the issue of pending bills. We get into arrears with the hospitals and then they refuse to treat the patients. This year, for instance, we have only Rs1,420.58 crore against the projected requirement of Rs2,489 crore,” Secretary, Ex-Servicemen Welfare, is quoted as saying in the report.
War with Isis & the resilient people of Kobani
Hermione Gee
These courageous people are proof that the militants can be defeated. By mid-December, Kurdish forces had retaken control of about 70 per cent of the town — although frontlines are fluid and shifting all the time
Keeping the night watch at a border outpost at the edge of Kobani, one member of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic People's Units (YPG) stands surveying the surrounding area, despite the near total darkness of the city's wartime blackout. The triangular yellow flag of the YPG flutters on a small pole above him, a red star at its centre. “Islamic State are over there,” he says, pointing south-east, “less than a kilometre away.” He adds that the first coalition air strikes came at a crucial moment. “We only had one or two days left when they started bombing,” he explains. “We were out of ammunition, everything.”

Now, whenever an air strike lands, people happily shout "Obama!" and several newborn babies in Kobani have been named in honour of the American President. Mortar strikes and gunfire can be heard throughout the day but, compared to the early days of the war, another border guard says: “Now is like peacetime. Back then, the shelling and the fighting didn't stop. No one slept for two weeks.” Before the US-led air strikes began in early October, the YPG had been battling Isis fighters in Kobani alone for 45 days. They were outgunned and outnumbered, and no one expected the town to survive.

“The bravery and courage of our forces stopped Isis,” says Anwar Muslim, the Prime Minister of the canton of Kobani. “Then the coalition air strikes began and the (Iraqi Kurdish) Peshmerga also offered support, and our forces gained the initiative. Practically and psychologically, Isis are now broken.”

By mid-December, according to Kobani's Minister of Defence, Ismat Sheikh Hasan, Kurdish forces had retaken control of about 70 per cent of the town – although the frontlines are fluid and are shifting all the time. “Planes hit the Isis positions inside Kobani and are also targeting the reinforcements they try to send here,” he says. “But no matter how hard the fighter jets hit them, without an effective force on the ground, it wouldn't change anything.” The YPG still needs more heavy weapons, and more air strikes, particularly on Isis supply lines, Hasan says, if Isis is to be defeated.

In recent days US-led coalition forces have launched dozens of air strikes over Kobani as part of their campaign against Isis across Syria and Iraq. Several Isis buildings, vehicles and fighting positions were said to have been destroyed. In the meantime, Kobani, once a small agricultural town on the Syrian-Turkish border, is now a wasteland. Entire areas have been reduced to rubble and the hundreds of civilians still living there are under constant threat.

On December 16, an Isis mortar hit a house in the town killing Ahmed Abut and his 14-year-old son, Mustafa. The family had fled to Kobani from the nearby village of Bir Habash when IS first took the area this summer. Overwhelmed by the number of dead in recent months, funeral rites in Kobani are now kept to a minimum. At a small local hospital, the body of the young boy is laid out and wrapped in white cloth before being placed in a black plastic body bag and transferred to a flimsy plywood coffin. His father's body waits on a large metal tray on the floor. The coffins are placed in the back of a truck and taken to a nearby patch of land where two long trenches have already been dug, ready for the coffins that arrive every day. Mustafa's mother and sister sit nearby, sobbing as YPG fighters lower the coffins into the ground and cover them with earth. A Peshmerga soldier places a jagged white headstone on the mound, watched by a few old men in long white robes, with red Kurdish turbans tied around their heads. Ahmed Ismael, a 22-year-old carpenter, joined the resistance four months ago. “It's been three years that our people – even small children – know how to fight,” he says.

Based in a small house in the now destroyed market area of Kobani, Ismael helps provide support to the frontline, bringing food and ammunition to fighters, or transporting injured soldiers to hospital. Members of the local resistance have knocked holes in the walls between the terraced houses so they can cross the town under safe cover. Curtains are hung across the entrance of some streets to protect people from Isis snipers. “We are fighting for our freedom. We are fighting so that our lives can go back to normal,”he says

Mahmoud Salih, 50, and his wife Khadija Yusef, 40, also stayed behind. They tried to flee to Turkey when the fighting started, but soon turned around.

“I told my wife to go to Turkey where she would be safe,” Mahmoud says. “But she said, 'I'll stay with you; if you die, I'll die with you. Isis has already destroyed too many lives.' It's difficult but we are coping. Kobani might be a small town but we have a big heart.” These days it also has a fierce and hard-won pride. "People said we will fight, and many became refugees," Mr Muslim says, "but we refused to live with Isis and its ideology. We showed that if people fight and resist, Isis can be defeated."

"He was a poor man. He planned to go back to his village when it was liberated," one of Abut's neighbours says, as the small group of mourners breaks up and heads home. "He was a good man; we used to help each other."As well as the threat to their lives, Kobani's remaining residents face increasingly difficult conditions as winter sets in and temperatures plummet. On a chilly December afternoon, 30-year-old Letfiya Aberkali Zelema is huddled around a small campfire outside her home in western Kobani. “We have no heat and no fuel,” she explains. “We have to make fires outside and cook here.” Zelema's family decided to stay. “This is our land. Why should we leave it for others? It's better to die here,” she says.

Although there are no shops left in the town, the local municipality, run by the Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Union Party, organises regular distributions of basic supplies to residents, including food, clothes and medicine. Even rubbish collection continues, the dustbin man tossing bags into the back of a small truck, shovel in one hand and a rifle strapped to his back. Zelema says her five children, who range in age from 18 months to 12 years old, are afraid. “We try to tell them everything is fine but if there's a mortar shell they get scared.” Outside, the children are running around a large patch of open ground in front of the house, laughing and taking turns on a small bicycle, occasionally coming back to the fire to warm up.

While she spends her days taking care of her family, most civilians are actively participating in the war effort. "We were given military and ideological training," says Asia, a young woman who joined the Women's Protection Unit three months ago. “The ideological training is just as important. You can't fight if you don't know what you're fighting for.”
Lakhvi may walk free; India fumes
Islamabad/New Delhi, Dec 29
A court in Pakistan suspended Mumbai attacks mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi's detention order on Monday, sparking a sharp reaction from India.

Islamabad High Court judge Justice Noorul Haq N Qureshi accepted Lakhvi's application challenging his detention and suspended the government's order. Lakhvi was told to submit a surety bond of Rs 1 million. The court also asked Lakhvi to be present at every hearing of the case.

An anti-terrorism court in Islamabad had on December 18 granted bail to Lakhvi in the Mumbai attacks case citing lack of evidence against him. However, before Lakhvi could be released from jail, the government detained him for three more months under the Maintenance of Public Order in Adiala Jail where the trial is being held.

The basic objective of the detention order, issued after the attack on Army Public School, Peshawar, was to prevent Lakhvi from attending any public meeting and potentially regrouping in its aftermath, said an official in Islamabad.
During the hearing today, Lakhvi's counsel Rizwan Abbasi said that the court had previously accepted his client's bail, but it was the administration that had detained him, which was unlawful. He said that granting bail was an issue of fundamental rights.

Reacting sharply, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh summoned Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit in New Delhi and the Indian mission in Islamabad took up the issue with the Pakistan Foreign Office.

An official statement by the Ministry of External Affairs said: "Basit was summoned to the MEA by the Foreign Secretary today afternoon.”

“The Foreign Secretary conveyed strong concern at the lack of effective action by Pakistan's prosecuting authorities after the anti-terrorism court ordered the release of internationally designated terrorist Lakhvi, whose involvement in the Mumbai terror attack is well-known," it said.

New Delhi said it expects the Government of Pakistan to abide by its commitment to expedite steps to bring all those responsible for the 26/11 attacks to justice,” it said.

Pak envoy summoned 

    Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh summoned Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit and expressed strong concern of suspension of Lakhvi’s detention
    An anti-terrorism court on December 18 had granted bail to Lakhvi in the Mumbai attacks case
    Before Lakhvi could be released from jail, the Pakistan Government detained him for three more months under the Maintenance of Public Order
    On Monday, the Islamabad High Court suspended the detention order
Five generations of valour and war-time honours
PUNE: Major (retd) Uday Parshuram Sathe, a veteran of the 1971 Indo-Pak War, is a proud son and a prouder grandson. He belongs to a family of warriors which served the country for five generations with distinction and valour that earned them war-time decorations.

Sathe's grandfather, Subhedar Shripad Hari Sathe 'Bahadur', was a part of the British Indian army that fought in the Egyptian theatre during World War-I. His father, Maj Parashuram Sathe, was a commissioned regular officer in the Indian army in 1941 during World War II.

Subhedar Sathe served in the army as a sub-assistant surgeon and was awarded the Indian Maritime Service Medal in 1914 and later the Order of British India. The British government also conferred the title of 'Bahadur' on him.

On the occasion of 'Vijay Diwas', which is commemorated every year on December 16 to mark India's victory over Pakistan in 1971, Major Uday Sathe spoke to TOI about his experience of the war that earned him a Vir Chakra, the third highest gallantry award presented for acts of bravery in the battlefield, and the Maharashtra Gaurav Puraskar. He said he drew immense inspiration from the previous generations of his family.

Major (retd) Uday Sathe was commissioned as a gunner officer in the Regiment of Artillery (the famed mountain gunners) and was posted in Agartala during the 1971 war. "Events leading to the eventual war had already been set off from March that year and we were into training Mukti Bahini, the liberation fighters. In the first week of November 1971, Bangladesh was being attacked from the western as well as the eastern fronts and there was a very serious battle of Dalai on the eastern front. We attacked Pakistani troops to find out the fighting capability of their infantry, how good they were in application of fire and their morale."

"On the intervening night of December 2 and 3, 1971, we entered the then East Pakistan, reaching the area called Brick Kiln. Our main access of attack was Akhura for which we were tasked with clearing an area of broken bridge and attacking a border out post on way to Akhura. The fiercest fighting took place at this broken bridge area," he recalled.

Later, proceeding through Sanmura and crossing Gomati, the Indian troops launched a surprise pre-dawn attack on Chandina, he said. The troops continued their forward march to Ellaitganj and later to Daudkhandi. Sathe was awarded Vir Chakra for his role in this battle.

More recently, on October 31, Sathe had the honour of representing his late grandfather, Subhedar Sripad Hari Sathe Bahadur, at a function hosted by the British High Commissioner in New Delhi to acknowledge the significant contribution of Indians in the then British Indian army during World War-I. Defence secretary of the UK Michael Fallon, the then-defence minister Arun Jaitley, UK High Commissioner Sir James Bevan and military and defence attaches of commonwealth countries, excluding Pakistan and Bangladesh, were present at this function.

"Post-Churchill era, the British never forgot the good deeds of Indian troops. They invited all descendents of those who participated in World War-I to commemorate their services," said Sathe. In fact, the UK has planned a series of initiatives to commemorate the 100 years of World War-I.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal