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Monday, 2 February 2015

From Today's Papers - 02 Feb 2015

Armed forces’ demands to be met soon: Parrikar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 1
Finally there is good news for more than 20 lakh retired veterans of the Armed Forces. An assurance to implement the one rank-one pension (OROP) was given to the veterans by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar here. The veterans had organized a rally at Jantar Mantar to protest against the non-implementation of the OROP.

The defence minister, who invited a delegation of veterans, assured them of the positive outcome on four key issues, including getting all sanctions before the Budget is presented on February 28.

Chief of the Indian Army General Dalbir Singh Suhag was present at the meeting which was held at Kota House as thousands of veterans sat in protest.

Maj General Satbir Singh (retd), chairman of the Indian Ex—Servicemen Movement (IESM), made a formal announcement to this effect at the rally. The announcement was greeted with applause.

He said the defence minister gave an assurance to the 27-member delegation of veterans on the following points: The OROP will be as per the Parliament sanction on December 2011; it will come in effect from April 1, 2014; the defence minister will complete all formalities at the level of the Ministry of Defence by February 17 to send the file to the financé ministry and lastly a sanction will be taken before the Budget is presented on February 28.

The issue of the OROP calculating formula was one of the sticking points and various associations of veterans had demanded a clarification on this. The definition accepted by the Ministry of Defence is the one the Rajya Sabha Petitions Committee chaired by former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Bhagat Singh Koshyari suggested in December 2011.

OROP, its said,: “implies that uniform pension be paid to Armed Forces personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement, and any future enhancement in the rates of pension to be automatically passed on to the past pensioners. This implies bridging the gap between the rate of pensions of the current pensioners and the past pensioners and also future enhancements in the rate of pension to be automatically passed on to the past pensioners.”

The OROP will be implemented from April 1 last year, implying that veterans would be entitled to arrears.

The calculation of financial outlay for the OROP is being finalized and it could vary between Rs 9,000 crore and Rs 12,000 crore. It is expected to be completed by Tuesday following which the MoD will grant its sanction.

The OROP was sanctioned by the previous government on February 17 last year.
PM plans ‘outcome-driven’ visit to Beijing in May-end
Partial nod to China’s Maritime Silk Route plan | Pact on shorter Mansarovar route
Sandeep Dikshit in Beijing

February 1
India has refused to give a blank cheque to China’s Maritime Silk Route initiative, some of whose transportation links touch its sensitive nerve from the security viewpoint.

While assuring selective endorsement to Maritime Silk Route sections that benefit India instead of an across-the-board welcome, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi here on Sunday that both sides must do their best to resolve the border dispute instead of leaving it unattended for the future generations. This was the first high-level contact with China after US President Barack Obama’s visit to India.

The two ministers, meeting ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 'outcome-driven' visit to China before May-end, decided to set up a Contact Group to resolve pending issues.

This mechanism was also adopted before US President Barack Obama’s India visit and resulted in breakthroughs on the nuclear liability issue and co-production of defence hardware.

Pressed for her outlook on the border issue, Sushma Swaraj said she was "hopeful" and added that both Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping had the willpower to resolve the border dispute. National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, named India's Special Representative on the border issue two months back, will arrive before Modi's visit to hold talks with his Chinese counterpart.

Sushma told Wang that they shouldn't "bequeath" the border dispute to future generations and felt Modi and Xi had the requisite political capital and mandate to take decisive steps towards resolving it. More significant was the first public articulation of India’s position on the Chinese Maritime Silk Route initiative. China's plan to include Sri Lanka and the Maldives as landing nodes is a sore point with India because it apprehends their use for military purpose in the future. India was upset when former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa had allowed the berthing of Chinese submarines and allowed a Chinese company to take up expansion of Colombo port, a project cancelled by his successor Maithripela Srisena, who is perceived to be more friendly towards India.
"It will be synergy-based endorsement. We have told them that we cannot give a blank endorsement to the entire route," Sushma said about the Chinese initiative. However, India welcomes the portion of the Silk Road Economic Belt coming down from Kunming in China to India, Myanmar and Bangladesh, she added.
 The minister said both sides did not discuss Obama’s recent visit to India. The Tribune has learnt that this was not required because the new Foreign Secretary, S Jaishankar, had briefed the Chinese Ambassador to India Le Yucheng about the visit before accompanying Sushma to Beijing via Kunming. He had also met China’s Special Envoy to Afghanistan Sun Yuxi a few days earlier.
Sushma’s request for the quick opening of a second route to Kailash Mansarovar saw an on-the-spot clinching of the issue. This will ensure that a small batch of 250 pilgrims, especially the elderly, will leave for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra this June via Nathu La pass.

The sea silk route initiative

    China's plan to include Sri Lanka and the Maldives as landing nodes is a sore point with India because it apprehends their use for military purpose in the future
    India welcomes the portion of the Silk Road Economic Belt from Kunming in China to India, Myanmar and Bangladesh

Mansarovar pilgrimage

    The 250 pilgrims on the new route via Nathu La pass will 12 days
    Earlier, 900 of them took 22 days through the Lipu Leh pass.
Have told Army to check casualties, says Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Saturday said he has instructed the Army to ensure that there are no casualties in the force “as far as possible” during operations against terrorists and it has been taking necessary precautions.

Parrikar, who visited the family of Col M N Rai, killed in an encounter with terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir on January 27, said he has personally assured them of all help.

“My instruction to Army is very clear. As far as possible, ensure that you don’t lose any men from your side,” he said, adding that the army has taken proper precautions during the last two months.

He also paid tributes to Col Rai, saying he was a brave officer.

“I visited his family and I have personally directed that all required support should be extended immediately. And wherever there is any difficulty, I have told them to get back to me if required,” he said.

Parrikar had visited the family last evening at Cariappa Vihar residence in Delhi Cantt and condoled the death of the officer.

39-year-old Rai lost his life fighting terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir’s Tral area on January 27, just a day after being awarded Yudh Seva Medal.
India just woke up on defence front: ex-Army deputy chief
“India has just woken up to the dire need for defence preparedness. We need to be able to bring the nation on par with others vis-√†-vis technology, infrastructure, personnel etc,” observed former Deputy Chief of Army Staff N.S. Malik.

He was in the city to address a meeting of students recently. Speaking to The Hindu , Mr. Malik said that defence preparedness doesn’t mean mere equipment. It was training, creating infrastructure and technology. China has developed roads up to Indian borders.

But, our troupes need to walk down three to four days to reach their posts. We need to gear up on this front as well, he said.

The armed forces are dependent on obsolete equipment even today. India still relies on MiG aircraft, which are known as ‘flying coffins’ or ‘widow-makers’. We need to replace them with latest ones, he said.

The other major challenge was shortage of staff. While 42 squadrons of army were required, the country has only 30. There are about 46,000 officers against the requirement of 60,000.

Mandatory military service

Compulsory military training might not be helpful or possible. But, the government should make it mandatory for Central services like IAS, IPS to serve Defence for two to three years.

It might take some time for Make in India campaign to ‘take flight’ as far as defence equipment and technologies were concerned.

The country should depend upon import of arms for immediate requirements and focus on manufacturing them in India itself for future necessities.

Transfer of technologies

The government should also lay emphasis on transfer of technologies while importing arms. Bofors guns would have been a successful case of ‘Make in India’ long back had it not been mired in a procurement scandal.

“Whether bribery happened or not, nobody knew. After the deal was scrapped, the transfer of technology was obviously stopped,” he said.

NCC visibility

Agreeing that NCC visibility was coming down in colleges and schools, he said that shortage of officers and lack of support from the State government was hitting the objective.

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