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Wednesday, 11 February 2015

From Today's Papers 11 Feb 2015

Navy holds tsunami readiness drill

New Delhi, February 10
Indian Navy has conducted a large-scale exercise to test its readiness for handling a tsunami-like disaster with over 20 warships and various aircraft taking part in the drill which was held around Lakshadweep Islands.

The Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) exercise involving more than 20 ships from the Western and Eastern Fleets and various aircraft of Indian Navy was conducted yesterday in the Lakshadweep Islands (Kavaratti, Aggatti, Kalpeni and Androth).

The exercise — which spanned an area of approximately 8,000 sq miles in the Indian Ocean — simulated a major cyclone striking the islands, disrupting essential services and causing widespread destruction of property, loss of life and dislocation of personnel.

The ships in the drill were grouped into four forces, each having a humanitarian assistance and security component.

The exercise was designed to validate the Navy’s capability for providing immediate succour and relief to the affected people, an official statement said.

It involved the Navy personnel setting up medical camps and making provisions for food, shelter from the elements, restoration of basic facilities and limited restoration work till the situation stabilised.

In the wake of the “fresh water crisis” at Male in December last year, Indian Navy had deployed two warships which supplied more than 2,000 tonnes of fresh water to the city of Male over a period of 10 days.

The Navy was also at the forefront of relief operations in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004. It also took part in evacuation operations from Lebanon in 2006 and Libya in 2011 and provided assistance in Bangladesh during Cyclone Sidr in 2007 and in Myanmar during Cyclone Nargis in 2008.

The Navy had also participated in the efforts to locate the missing Malaysian airliner MH-370.— PTI
More Goans are joining armed forces now: Parrikar
IN HIS FIRST INTERVIEW TO GOAN MEDIA SINCE HE BECAME DEFENCE MINISTER, MANOHAR  PARRIKAR TALKS  TO  THE NAVHIND TIMES on defining of the criteria for arms agents, safety of Indian coastline and his meeting with the new US ambassador to India. In the conversation with RAMNATH N PAI RAIKAR, the Raksha Mantri said the number of Goans applying and being recruited in the Indian armed forces has definitely increased. Q. The Indian armed forces have taken up a drive for military recruitment. It has been observed that Goa does not substantially contribute in terms of recruits for our armed forces. As the Defence Minister, would you undertake some measures to reverse this trend?
You are referring to a situation that was observed in Goa in the past. I think this trend has already been reversed. A lot of Goans want to get into Indian armed forces. The only problem that is now coming to the fore is their physical fitness. The number of Goans applying and being recruited in the Indian armed forces has definitely increased. So I can say that there is a demand from Goa for recruitment in the Army, Navy and Air Force. Finally, Konkani-speaking youth from Goan population are making a beeline for recruitment in the Indian armed forces, which is good news. The best way to boost this trend is to encourage National Cadet Corps  in schools and colleges in Goa, and further increase marks existing for students, who have opted for NCC. In fact, during the recent round of recruitment, quite a number of desiring youth from Goa were selected.
As for the appeal from the central government to the youth in the country to join the three wings of the defence, I can say that there is overwhelming response to it. The only problem is how to conduct the recruitment drives for them, without creating law and order situation. In three places – Gwalior, at a place somewhere near Jaipur and in Uttar Pradesh – police had to resort to firing to disperse the uncontrollable crowds of desiring candidates. Annually we recruit around 60,000 cadets, and the entire list of applicants from which these 60,000 cadets are selected, includes 20 to 30 lakh names. And many of the rejected applicants feel that justice is not done in the recruitment process. Many a time, in the running test, applicants feel that they could not run freely due to the rush of other applicants around them. So we are trying to change the recruitment process by going online. Under this process, only those applicants who register their names online will be permitted to take part in the recruitment process. So the applicants have to register in advance and we would know exactly how many people have applied. This exercise will also facilitate us to call a fixed number of applicants, say 2,000 per day, eliminating the mela. Ironically, the recruitment drive itself is known as Bharti mela.
The Prime Minister himself selected you for the post of the Defence Minister for various reasons, one of them being bringing transparency in the arms deals. Has the process of procurement of arms and ammunitions for the country, which had slowed down for a while, begun?
Obviously! The process has definitely gathered speed. I feel that another reason for this blockade in procurement of arms and ammunition was the cumbersome process involved. The process was too complicated, and the general atmosphere then was of total mistrust. The arms and ammunition procurement has speeded up now, and the quality of the products has also been ensured.
You had recently indicated that the defence ministry could soon allow defence companies to have their representatives in India, and the government could impose financial penalties on errant arms agents rather than blacklisting them. Why do you support formalising and legalising arms agent or representatives of foreign defence suppliers, who were banned by the government after the Bofors kickbacks scandal in the late 1980s?
As of today, agents of arms dealers are legally permitted, but the related criteria are not defined. What I proposed was defining these criteria. I wanted these agents to be declared in advance, say two weeks before the arms deal starts, so as to bring about transparency in the process right from the beginning. Follow the same process, and make a declaration if an agent is removed during the deal. If we don’t want a particular agent because of his background, we should have the power to remove him. And then there should be no payment for his success in striking an arms deal or paying him a percentage of the contract value. And finally, we want the arms dealers to shoulder the responsibility of their respective agents, if these agents do something wrong. These are our conditions under which arms dealers desiring to do business with us, must appoint their agents. We have no problem. We want everything to bring on paper. Unfortunately, there is no satisfactory definition as regards what an arms agent can do and what he cannot do. So everything becomes vague. Therefore, we are in the process of defining. For example, if an agent is appointed for a particular period, he should present to us all the financial transactions he was involved in, for a period of one year prior his appointment. After that, every year, till the contract expires, he has to file the returns about payments involved.
After a review of coastal security, you decided to set up a dedicated marine police force and to survey all landing points along the Indian coastline. Do you think that this step should have been taken immediately after the 26/11 terrorist attacks on Mumbai?
I have not decided to set up the marine police force. It was already set up by the Union ministry of home affairs. What we are trying to do is bring all the landings along the coastline on the map. Create digital information of all the landing facilities, so that we can keep track through advanced global positioning system. This will cover every point and each vessel through an identification tag, which should solve the problem, to a large extent. However, human intelligence, human feedback and human interpretation are always required. Finally, there would be requirement of continuous monitoring and sharing of the information, or else the information will have no meaning. Computers by themselves cannot provide security, and it has to be provided by continuous monitoring of various points, in consonance with human intelligence.
You recently met the US envoy to India, Richard Verma. Can you share the issues that were discussed during the meeting?
During my meeting with the US ambassador Richard Verma, we basically discussed about taking forward the issues, which have been agreed upon by the two governments. For example, there is the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative  between the US and India to further our strategic goals, under which new technologies are being identified for joint exploitation and joint development. Presently, such six technologies have been identified, out of which four have already taken clear shape in the mind, while two are in the initial stage of processing. We want this initiative to be taken to the actual execution level. This was discussed during our meeting.
Have you been regularly visiting Uttar Pradesh after your election to the Rajya Sabha from that state?
Yes, I have visited Uttar Pradesh after being elected to Rajya Sabha. You see, basically I don’t have any constituency in UP. I am a Rajya Sabha member and therefore, Unlike Lok Sabha, the entire Uttar Pradesh is my constituency. I will also be using the money received by me under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development scheme on various works in the entire state of Uttar Pradesh. [NT]

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