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Monday, 19 January 2015

From Today's Papers - 19 Jan 2015

Donation Without Consent Leaves Army Offices Fuming Against Chief

NEW DELHI: Forced charity can pinch. Indian army, the world’s second largest, experienced this pinch when they recently came to know of the cutting of a day’s salary. They later found that Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag didn’t consider it necessary to issue a note informing army’s officials before deducting their salaries and presenting the collected amount of `100 Crore for the Prime Minister’s relief fund.

Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag on behalf of  the 1.3 million strong Indian Army on Thursday donated a cheque of over `100 crore to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund after forgoing their one-day salary at the traditional ‘At Home’ at the Army House on the occasion of 76th Army Day. However, the prime minister was not even aware of it.

The Indian army played a major role in the relief and rescue operation in last year’s flood in Jammu and Kashmir by rescuing over 2 lakh stranded people in an operation which lasted for two weeks. The issue has now raised a controversy on the social media, as army officials are claiming that they were not informed about their salary cut and it was not made ‘voluntary’. Caught unaware of the chief’s arbitrary decision, some of the top army officials are even planning to file RTIs to the army headquarters to find out under whose orders the salary cut is being done.

Sources told the Sunday Standard that instructions were issued from the office of the Adjutant General who handles service matter of army, to the Controller of Defiance Account to do the salary cut of one day of every army personnel.  With this order, one day salary of the month January will be deducted to the relief fund.  When contacted for the Army’s version, sources said that army regularly contributes for natural calamity and will continue to do so. “Army followed procedures and rules and this is not the first time, we are doing it,” army sources said. This time, donation was for the Jammu and Kashmir flood relief fund. But, the army officials were surprised with the timing of the donation. It was after six months of the disaster.

“It Can Happen Only In India....!!!! On the occasion of Army Day our Chief Of Army Staff presents a Cheque worth ` 100 Crores to the Prime Minister as PM Releif Fund. The money has been generated by cutting One Day Salary of everybody working in the Indian Army. What an Irony .... Our war widows struggle for their day to day living... Our jawans are not able to afford good education for their Children... and here we become so large hearted to donate money to the politicians... Did the COAS take our permission before doing this...??? When did he start having rights on our hard earned Money...??? Has any Civilian / Politician ever donated his salary for us..? It is time we raise our voice and stop this nonsense before it becomes precedence. Why should we pay for their future Goals,” an official said on WhatsApp.

And he is not the only one, annoyed with it. “Our jawans, who battle under hostile weather conditions with poorly equipped weapons and armory, and his family, survives on the salary. If you are deducting his salary, it has to be voluntary. One cannot do it arbitrarily,” another official said. Even three months back, the Indian air force had also made donation of ` 8.43 crore to the PM Relief fund through donation of a day’s salary of its over 1.7 lakh officers and med deployed across the country. The IAF headquarters had taken consent of its officials before going for the salary cut.
Army’s women officers hope to serve in combat roles soon
When Captain Divya Ajith leads the first all-women contingent of the Army this Republic Day, she will carry on her shoulders the hopes and aspirations of women officers to soon serve the nation in combat roles.
“We believe we are equal and second to none. We have already marched for the first time on the Army Day and now another first would be the Republic Day parade. So, yes, we do wish to be in the combat force.
“And I hope that this first for us will also come soon,” said Ajith of the Corps of Army Air Defence, Currently, the Army does not have women in combat role.
The 25-year-old officer already has a first to her credit. She was the first woman cadet in the history of the Army to have been awarded the prestigious ‘Sword of Honour’ at the passing out parade of the Officers Training Academy (OTA) in Chennai in 2010.
A multi-faceted personality, Ajith is an accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer, percussionist and well-versed in sports like basketball and discus throw.
India is set to showcase women empowerment in all three forces with contingents having 148 personnel each drawn from the Army, Air Force and the Navy to parade down the Rajpath on January 26 where US President Barack Obama will be the Chief Guest. Ajith said the entire contingent is excited, not to mention filled with immense pride to represent the country.
“And, the fact that it President Obama who will be present there himself, we are all doubly excited,” she said with a smile. The young officer, who hails from Chennai, said she always wanted to be in the Army and during her five years in service, she has never felt being discriminated against.  But, with glory comes hard work and responsibility as the contingent has been training rigorously ever since it arrived in Delhi to perfect its moves and synchronise its steps to put their best foot forward.
Adjutant, OTA Chennai, Major Gautam Mandke, who is accompanying the contingent here, said, “For many, moving from Chennai to Delhi was a drastic change in weather from 30 degrees Celsius to 3 degrees Celsius, so we trained them accordingly.” 
The contingent comprises about 20-25 per cent cadets and rest all officers, a Defence official said. About the selection procedure, he said, “We selected about 170 odd women (officers and cadets) at the OTA in Chennai and now from them we will narrow it down further to 140 odd for the final march.” 
Captain Ajith also hopes that seeing the officers march down the Rajpath will inspire more women to don the olive green uniform. “I think many of those parents who will be seeing us either at the Rajpath or on television, will feel inspired to send their girls to the Army and many of those girls would themselves be motivated to be in uniform,” she said.
US warns Pak: Won’t tolerate terror attacks during Obama’s India visit
Washington/New Delhi, Jan 18
The US has asked Pakistan to ensure there is no cross-border terror incident during President Barack Obama’s visit to India, subtly warning of “consequences” if any such attack is traced back to the country.

Obama will arrive in New Delhi on January 25 on a three-day visit to the country. He will attend the Republic Day parade on January 26, the first US President to do so.

The US and Indian security agencies are taking extra care for Obama as he will be on an open-air platform at Rajpath for more than two hours, witnessing the parade.

The US has asked Pakistan to ensure there is no cross-border terrorism or even attempts of it during Obama's trip, says sources.

Pakistan has been subtly warned of the “consequences” of any terrorist attack during Obama’s trip if that is traced back to their country, the sources said.

The warning has been issued keeping the track record of Pakistan-based militant groups that have carried out such attacks in India coinciding with high-profile visits. On March 20, 2000, militants had shot 36 Sikhs in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir, coinciding with the visit of the then US President Bill Clinton to India from the US. The US forces in Afghanistan are also keeping a close eye on the activities of the terrorist groups in the region. The US Embassy in Pakistan, too, has been alerted.

Ahead of the presidential trip, there is an unprecedented level of intelligence sharing between India and the US. American Secret Service personnel, who have landed in New Delhi and Agra, have already conducted a preliminary survey of the routes to be taken by the US President and Rajpath.
A seven-layer security ring will be thrown around the VVIP enclosure at the venue and the airspace over the area would be monitored by radar.
This will form part of the planned unprecedented ground-to-air security drill that will turn the National Capital into an impregnable fortress during Obama’s visit. A multi-agency control room will monitor the surveillance operations in every area of the National Capital, which has been put on the highest alert.
At least 20,000 paramilitary personnel will be deployed along with 80,000 police personnel to ensure fool-proof security in and around Rajpath. For the first time, the Delhi Police will install face-recognition cameras around the venue and at the city's entry points to identify criminal elements before they sneak in. The cameras will be installed at airports, railway stations, bus stands, etc. and on routes leading to Rajpath.
“These cameras have advanced face-recognition algorithm which will identify faces in a crowd and match them to available photographs of terrorists and criminal elements in our database.
“Once matched, the software will alert us and the suspect can be nabbed,” said a senior police official. “We will install 80 to 100 such cameras at strategic entry points of the city and at the parade venue,” he added.
All metro stations within 1 km of the venue will be shut down on the morning of January 26.
The ITC Maurya hotel, where the US President will be staying, has been taken over by the Secret Services personnel and multi-frequency control room manned by the US officials have been set up. Agencies

1,020 live cartridges found in Delhi

The Delhi Police on Sunday arrested three persons and seized a huge cache of live cartridges near a metro station in east Delhi. They police, however, ruled out the possibility of terror link behind the seizure. The police recovered 1,020 live cartridges from three people near Delhi Metro’s Welcome Station.
2 LeT militants killed in Valley encounter
Majid Jahangir

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, January 18
Two militants of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba, including a commander of the group, were killed in a gunfight in north Kashmir on Sunday. The two militants, identified as Pakistani nationals -- Assadullah and Mohammad Ramzan -- were killed at a time when the security grid in Jammu and Kashmir has been put on alert ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit to the country.

In the past five days, security forces have stepped up anti-militancy operation in the valley in which eight militants have been killed so far.

While a Pakistani militant of Lashkar was arrested in a separate operation in north Kashmir, a policeman was shot dead in south Kashmir on Saturday. The top-most security grid of the state -- Unified Headquarters -- will meet in the coming days to review the security situation. It will be chaired by Governor NN Vohra.

The Srinagar-based defence spokesman of the Army’s 15 Corps said that the operation which left two militants of the Lashkar dead was launched last evening after a specific input about the presence of the militants in Saidpora village near  Sopore, 50 km from here.
“An effective cordon was established by 2 am and all possible escape routes were blocked. As the noose was tightened in the morning hours, the terrorists tried to escape. On being confronted by the Army and SOG personnel, the terrorists opened fire. In the ensuing firefight, two terrorists were eliminated,” the spokesman said.
He said two AK-47 rifles, a pistol, ammunition, two underbarrel grenade launcher (UBGL), six UBGL rounds and other war-like stores were seized from the slain militants. Police sources said that the militants were hiding in a house and were killed in a five-hour-long gunfight when they tried to break the cordon.
 A police spokesman said both the slain militants had infiltrated in 2013.
India-US strategic partnership
President Barack Obama's forthcoming visit as the chief guest on Republic Day is likely to give a fresh impetus to the Indo-US strategic partnership. While the relationship is substantive and broad based, the impressive achievements of the strategic partnership are to a large extent attributable to the successful implementation of the 10-year Defence Framework Agreement signed in June 2005. The renewal of this agreement will be a major item on the bilateral agenda during the summit meeting.
During the Obama-Narendra Modi meeting in September 2014, the two leaders had stated their intention to expand defence cooperation to bolster national, regional, and global security. It was agreed that the two countries would build an enduring partnership in which both sides treat each other at the same level as their closest partners, including defence technology transfers, trade, research, co-production, and co-development.
Prime Minister Modi and President Obama welcomed the first meeting under the framework of the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative in September 2014 and endorsed the decision to establish a task force to expeditiously evaluate and decide on unique projects and technologies which would have a transformative impact on bilateral defence relations and enhance India’s defence industry and military capabilities.
For several decades, India's procurement of weapons platforms and other defence equipment had remained mired in disadvantageous buyer-seller, patron-client relationships like that with the erstwhile Soviet Union and Russia. While India has been manufacturing Russian fighter aircraft and tanks under licence, the Russians never actually transferred weapons technology to India.
The country has now diversified its acquisition sources beyond Russia to Western countries and Israel. From the US, India has purchased weapons platforms and other items of defence equipment worth around US $10 billion over the last five years. However, none of the recent deals with the US have included the transfer of technology clauses. There is now a growing realisation in India that future defence acquisitions must simultaneously lead to a transformative change in the country’s defence technology base and manufacturing prowess. Hence, it is imperative that whatever India procures now must be procured with a transfer of technology clause being built into the contract even though it means having to pay a higher price. The aim should be to make India a design, development, manufacturing and export hub for defence equipment in two to three decades.
In September 2013, Deputy Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter, now the US Defence Secretary designate, had offered India a “Defence Trade and Technology Initiative” under which the US will share sensitive cutting-edge defence technology and permit US companies to enter into joint production and co-development ventures in India. Carter had then said, “We changed our mindset around technology transfer to India in the Department of Defence from a culture of presumptive no to one of presumptive yes.”
The Javelin anti-tank guided missile is another key candidate for joint production, though so far the US has been hesitant to offer its seeker and warhead technology. India is also looking for high-end counter-IED technologies. In future, the two countries will conduct joint research and development for new weapons systems and the US may offer even nuclear power packs for submarines and aircraft carriers and fighter aircraft engines. Cooperation of such a high order will raise India's technology base by an order of magnitude and help the country move several notches higher in its quest for self-reliance in defence production.
Before stepping down as Secretary of Defence, Chuck Hagel had nominated Frank Kendall, the Department's Undersecretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, as the defence initiative’s American lead. With Ashton Carter soon to become Secretary of Defence, the initiative will get a fresh boost. The biggest boost will come from a show-piece joint development project like the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile jointly developed with Russia.
The extended Defence Framework Agreement should take stock of the goals of the 2005 agreement that have not been fully achieved. For example, there has been no progress in cooperation on BMD technology. This needs to be rectified. Intelligence sharing is limited to ongoing counter-terrorism operations at present. It should be extended to the sharing of data bases as well, particularly the terrorism data base maintained by the US NCTC and India's NATGRID.
Prime Minister Modi’s government has raised the FDI limit for defence joint ventures to 49 per cent equity participation. It is likely to be open to modifying the offsets policy and amending export laws, which are considered a stumbling block. The agreement should take into account the Indian PM’s exhortation to industry to “Make in India”. The two governments should act as facilitators for their public and private sector companies to form joint ventures for the design and development, co-production and export of future weapons platforms.
There is a mutual recognition of the adverse implications of China's increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea and in dealing with the dispute over the Senkaku (Diaoyu) islands with Japan. This has undermined international and regional confidence in China's desire to resolve disputes peacefully. There is need to work in unison with the international community to uphold the unfettered use of the global commons. India is building robust military intervention capabilities and the armed forces are engaged in the process of formulating a doctrine to give effect to these capabilities.
Though India values its strategic autonomy and recognises that each bilateral relationship is important in its own way, the policymakers realise that the geo-political contours of the 21st century and peace and stability, particularly in the India-Pacific region, will be shaped through cooperative security. In future, India may be willing to conduct joint military operations with the US in its area of strategic interest in a contingency in which India's vital national interests are threatened, preferably as a Chapter 7 intervention under the UN flag and failing that, as part of a "coalition of the willing".
Gujjars seek Support for Raising ‘Gujjar Regiment’ in Army
The Gujjars of Jammu and Kashmir Sunday sought support from the community residing in other 12 North Western states of India including Rajasthan and Gujarat and asked for a joint  struggle  for raising of a full-fledged ‘Gujjar-Regiment’ in Indian Army on the pattern of ‘Jat’, ‘Rajput’ and Dogra Regiments.

The community members in a programme organised by Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation here today expressed strong resentment over unwarranted delay in raising of ‘Gujjar Scouts’ which stands approved in J&K.

“The struggle is going on since 1940 for separate regiments of Gujjars in Indian Army,” said Dr. Javaid Rahi, Secretary of Tribal Foundation, adding “now we have also decided to join hands with Gujjars of other States of India to fight more vigorously to achieve this long pending goal.”

Referring a letter dated 27th November 1940 of Government of India Department of Defence, Army Branch addressed to Gujjar Kshitriya Sabaha Meerat City says that the Central Government was planning to raise a Gujjar Regiment even in 1940 but till date we are fighting for that.

He said a delegation also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi some days back and projected the demand and the  Foundation has  send a fresh memorandum  to PMO recently.

The speakers questioned that why the decision of Government of India taken on December 22, 2003 has not been implemented where under it was approved that a new force comprising Gujjars and Bakarwals of Jammu and Kashmir would be raised for deployment on the difficult terrains of the State to serve for the security of the people residing in border and Pir Panchal area of the State. The proposed force was to be named as the “Gujjar scouts” and was designed to be framed on the pattern of Ladakh Scouts.

The speakers said that even it was reported in a section of press that the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had also approved this proposal in January 2004. (KNS)

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