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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

From Today's Papers - 25 Feb 2015

Corporate espionage: MOD employee arrested

Shaurya Karanbir Gurung

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 24
A “casual worker” in the Defence Ministry was today arrested for allegedly providing a forged identity card to a key accused in the Petroleum Ministry leaks case.

With the arrest of Defence Ministry staffer Virender Singh, who was employed with the MOD at L-Block in New Delhi since 2010, 14 people have so far been arrested in the corporate espionage case.

The police said no sensitive documents were stolen from the MOD and Virender had allegedly provided a fake identity card to Lalta Prasad, who used it to “intrude” into the Petroleum Ministry and “steal” documents. On February 17 when Lalta was apprehended by the police after entering the offices of the ministry at Shastri Bhawan, they had seized an identity card of the Audit Department, Defence Services, from him. The card was in his name with the designation “Lekha Pariksha Adhikari”.

Virender also allegedly gave blank official letterheads to Lalta. “The blank official letterheads were used to prepare forged letters, which were used to project that their (accused) vehicle (DL 13C-4734) was hired to perform official duties of the Director of Audit Defence Services and that a contract was signed with Dharam Singh Travel Agency by the office of the Director General of Audit, Defence Services, L-II Block, Brassey Avenue, New Delhi to this effect,” said Ravindra Yadav, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime).

The vehicle was driven by another accused Raj Kumar Chaubey who was arrested on February 17 when he was allegedly waiting outside Shastri Bhawan for Lalta and another accused Rakesh.

A local court today remanded Virender in a day’s custody of the Crime Branch.
India wants to seal $20-bn Rafale deal before April
 Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 24
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today held talks with his French counterpart Jean Yves Le Drian for more than 45 minutes to give a final shape to the multi-billion dollar Rafale deal.

Sources in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the government wants to seal the deal before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France, scheduled for April this year.

In the backdrop of the ministers’ talks, three irksome issues of the deal to buy 126 Rafale fighter jets from Dassault Aviation of France have been sorted out.

First, the cost negotiation committee has submitted its report to the MoD. Second, to end the French resistance of standing guarantee for Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) which is to make 108 of the 126 planes, the MoD has suggested that HAL will stand counter guarantee for its work or the Dassault Aviation can send it representatives for quality checks. Lastly, since Indian facilities are less automated than the French ones, it will surely take more time and consume more man hours.  So, a time formula has been worked out by India and was suggested to France.

The French aerospace major Dassault Aviation was selected as the lowest bidder in January 2012. The Air Force opted for the twin-engined Rafale in January 2012 over Eurofighter Typhoon of the European consortium EADS Cassidian after outsmarting F-16 , Boeing’s F/A-18, MiG-35 and SAAB Gripen in a bid floated in August 2007.
British Army mulls raising Sikh regiment
British Sikhs could soon be fighting on an exclusive UK frontline if plans materialise to raise their own unique Army regiment.

Recollections of the Anglo-Sikh wars seem to have faded into oblivion, as have memories of how the Kohinoor diamond was taken from Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s family, and how Maharaja Dalip Singh was prevented from returning to Punjab.

If British politicians have their way, an exclusive regiment of British Sikhs could soon be deployed in such far away theatres of war as Eastern Ukraine, or wherever else a challenge arose.

The head of a major gurdwara in West London had earlier gone on record to welcome the idea. Kuljit Singh Gulati, general secretary of the gurdwara in Shepherd’s Bush, has been quoted in a British newspaper as saying: “Sikhs have a long and distinguished heritage of serving the British Army. I know there are many Sikhs who will join the Army and serve wherever required. But if you want to get them in large numbers, they need their own regiment, something they will take pride in.”

Commenting on the idea of raising a reserve company of Sikhs, government minister Mark Francois said such an idea “may well have merit”. “We have passed this possibility on to the Chief of General Staff, who is now looking into the issue and we are awaiting his comment,” he said.

In parallel comment earlier this week, former Defence Minister Sir Nicholas Soames urged the government to “do away with political correctness” and raise a Sikh regiment. “You will be aware of the extraordinary gallant and distinguished service by Sikhs to this country,” he said. “Would you not agree with me that it’s high time to do away with the political correctness which infects some of this thinking and actually raise a Sikh regiment to serve the country and make a serious gap in our armed forces?” he said.

The idea of raising a Sikh regiment is being projected in London as a way of tapping the Asian and other ethnic minorities who are expected to form a significant part of the British population by 2020, but contribute comparatively small numbers to the Army. But such statistics also gloss over the unique place that Sikhs occupy in British political and military folklore.

Currently, the British National Army Museum is hosting a series of Heritage Lottery Fund-supported workshops that all deal with the Sikh history.

The first workshop earlier this year made available the memoirs of Charles Stewart Hardinge, son of Governor General Sir Henry Hardinge, who records his personal impressions of the young Dalip Singh. “The poor child (he is only eight years old and one of the most intelligent-looking boys) appeared rather frightened without array of troops, and almost clung to Gulab Singh for protection,” Hardinge writes.

“On dismounting from his elephant, the Raja (Gulab Singh) took him up in his arms and brought him up to the tent where the Governor General, the Commander in Chief and his representative staff were assembled. Sir Henry met the child at the door where, after declaring publicly his satisfaction at receiving the heir to the Sovereignty of the Punjab under his protection, he had different presents, such as shawls and musical boxes..laid before him, while he impressed upon his ministers the necessity of entering into such terms with the British as would ensure the speedy termination of hostilities. After this interview, the little Prince met the Governor General on several public occasions, the most interesting of which was the ratification and signature of the Treaty of Umretsir on the 9th of February, 1846,” Hardinge added.
NCC functioning under cloud as corruption cases surface

Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 24
The functioning of the National Cadet Corps (NCC), the country’s premier youth organisation, is under a cloud with large number of cases involving professional impropriety coming to light.

In 2014 alone, 116 courts of inquiry (CoI) were ordered by the NCC authorities across the country to investigate various allegations or complaints of corruption or personal misdemeanor, it is learnt.

Sources said this includes 84 cases of corruption or financial irregularities by officers and 20 cases of misbehaviour with cadets, including sexual offences with girls by the staff. The remaining cases pertain to indiscipline, accidents or other administrative matters.

In the recent past, a general court martial (GCM) cashiered a Lieutenant Colonel for financial irregularities, while action is underway against another Brigadier and a Lieutenant Colonel. GCMs have also been convened to try three JCOs.

The rate of disposal of such cases in the NCC is also slow. According to sources, about 300 cases piled up over the years are still pending. “While the NCC Director General (DG) exercises administrative control over service officers deputed to the organsiation, he does not have any disciplinary powers,” an officer said.

“Action against culpable personnel can only be initiated by the Area concerned or Sub-Area Headquarters, following the DG’s recommendation,” the officer said.

There are over 3,500 officers from the three services who are deputed to the NCC for commanding units or staffing directorate headquarters, in addition to a large number of JCOs and NCOs who form the permanent instructional cadre to impart training. With cadet strength of close to 14 lakh, the NCC is the world’s largest youth organisation, mandated to inculcate discipline and comradeship among its volunteer members.

Sources said the issue of corruption was also raised in the Cabinet Advisory Committee meeting chaired by the Minister of State for Defence last month. The meeting is held to compile inputs for the PMO on budgetary and policy matters. A large part of the NCC’s budget is spent on organsiing training camps and adventure expeditions.
Pak boat case: Coast Guard DIG removed

Ahmedabad, February 24
Coast Guard DIG B K Loshali, who had contradicted the government’s version on the explosion on board a Pakistani vessel, has been removed as the Chief of Staff at the Northwest region and attached to their zonal headquarters.

This has been done as a Board of Inquiry (BoI) is on against him to establish the facts. “This is a routine procedure. Since a BoI is on, he has been attached to the zonal headquarters in Gandhinagar as per standard operating procedure”, Coast Guard sources said.

The BoI has been ordered against him by the Coast Guard after they found his reply “unsatisfactory” to a showcause notice on his remarks that he had ordered blowing up of a Pakistani boat. — PTI
India refutes China’s claim on Arunachal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 24
Four days after China raised a storm over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, India today reacted sharply telling Beijing that the state was an “integral and inalienable” part of the country.

“The state of Arunachal Pradesh is an integral and inalienable part of India. The people of Arunachal Pradesh are citizens of India. Indian leaders visit Arunachal Pradesh from time to time as they visit other parts of India,” a spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry Syed Akbaruddin said.

He was replying to a query if there was any chance that India would give a strong reply to China on Arunachal Pradesh issue after it commented on Modi’s visit to that state on February 20. Akbaruddin was answering questions during a live ‘Q&A’ session on social networking site Facebook.

China claims the northern part of the state as a part of the Tibet Autonomous Region, a claim rejected by India. Beijing contests the 1914 Sir Henry Macmohan line ‘initialled’ by the Tibetan representatives in tripartite talks with the British and Chinese.

The latest posturing seems more aimed at the forthcoming round of boundary talks of special representative Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Beijing’s nominee Yang Jiechi.

In the past four months, India’s ‘routine’ activities in the north eastern state has led to at least three verbal spats between the two neighbours.
Striking before the enemy does is their strategy
Vishwas Kothari,TNN | Feb 25, 2015, 03.12 AM IST

PUNE: The French-German War of 1870-71 provided the first chronicled instance of a ground-to-air defence concept. The Germans, under attack from manned air balloons sent out by the French, created an air defence by using one-inch guns mounted on horse-pulled four-wheeled wagons, to fire at and bring down the enemy balloons.

In India, the then British government raised air defence batteries and regiments in anticipation of a looming threat of Japanese air strikes during the World War II. Two of the four regiments later became part of Indian Army's artillery at the time of Independence.

The Army air defence units have since grown into an independent hi-tech combat formation with the prime mandate of giving protective shield to the mechanized ground forces against enemy air strikes. Also, to provide air cover to important national events like the Republic Day parades, swearing-in ceremonies and the recent air show in Bangalore.

"Our challenge lies in how we develop and keep ourselves ahead of the evolving aircraft technology and beat them when it comes to defending our skies," said Brigadier Saif Ul Islam Khan, Commander of Air Defence Brigade at Dehu Road - a key formation of the Army's air defence strategy in the Southern Command, which covers 40% of the Indian land mass and is the largest Army command. "The entire modernization plan vis-a-vis air defence is focused on this aspect," he said while interacting with reporters, who were conducted on a visit to the brigade on Tuesday.

"The objective is to see whatever ranges they (aircraft) are able to achieve, we get our radars, guns and missile systems tuned in such way that we are able to engage them well before they become effective and obstruct the ground operations of our troops," he said while interacting with reporters, who were conducted on a visit to the brigade on Tuesday. This also explains the brigade's motto of "First To Strike".

"The Southern Army's air defence forces have long range and highly capable air radars that pick up an adversary aircraft well before they reach us," he added. Information collected by the radars is passed on to the automated command and control systems for guns and missiles which operate with a lightning strike to engage and destroy the adversary aircraft, he said.

"To ensure this, we have a variety of weapon systems including fair-weather guns, shoulder fired weapons, radar-controlled guns and missiles and electronic devices and radars that can detect enemy aircraft even before it can enter our national air space," he added. "A large number of electronic counter measures are embedded in our air defence equipment and they help us engage a hostile aircraft," he said.

"The responsibility of protecting the southern skies is entrusted with the Army air defence units of the Southern Command and we have a large number of weapons with varying ranges. The gun system provides us close protection shield over the ground forces while the missile system adds layers to the air defence," he added.

"Our soldiers who control these systems deal with state-of-the-art high end electronic equipment and computers with high processing powers and speeds and advanced communication systems," said Khan.

Later, an equipment demonstration was organized to showcase Army air defence systems including the mobile automated command post, tactical control radars, fire control radars, guns and missiles.
Pakistan violated border ceasefire 685 times during last 8 months, says Defence Minister

Pakistan violated ceasefire along the border 685 times during the last eight months in Jammu and Kashmir, the government told the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said 126 ceasefire violations took place along the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border under operational control of Army, while 559 violations took place along the IB under operational control of Border Security Force (BSF), reported PTI.

The violations resulted in the death of 24 people, including five Army personnel, three BSF personnel and 16 civilians.

Parrikar cited "local dynamics" like construction works as one of the reasons for the violations.

However, he said, "Appropriate retaliation to the ceasefire violations, as required, has been carried out by Indian Army/ BSF."

In addition, he said that all violations of ceasefire are taken up with Pakistan military authorities at the appropriate level through established mechanism of hotlines and flag meetings as well as weekly talks between Directorate Generals of Military Operations of the two countries.

BSF, too, holds talks at various levels with its counterpart, Pakistan Rangers, Parrikar added.

He further said that diplomatically, India has repeatedly emphasised, including at the highest level, the need for Pakistan to uphold the sanctity of the LC and abide by the ceasefire commitment of 2003 along the IB and LC.
In a first, PIB Defence wing publicises ‘secular’ wedding of Lt Governor’s son
For the first time, perhaps, the official public relations apparatus of the government has been used to publicise the ‘secular’ wedding function in the family of a governor’s office holder. The press release was, however, hastily withdrawn after coming under fire on Twitter.

The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the defence wing of Press Information Bureau (PIB) in Chandigarh issued a press release on Monday highlighting the wedding of the son of Lt Gen AK Singh (retd), Lt Governor of Andamans and Nicobar Islands who also holds the additional charge of Puduchery, which was held in neighbouring Panchkula on Friday.

The press release, with the title ” A profile austere wedding Vs Army fraternity” had been issued on the official mail of the PRO bearing the letterhead of the Press Information Bureau, Government of India. The statement goes on to give details of the “secular” traditions of the Lt Governor’s family in that his son, who is a Hindu, got married in Sikh traditions at a local Gurdwara.
The release also states that the Lt Governor is a former Cavalry officer of the Army and that a number of serving and retired officers of the Army attended the wedding to show camaraderie.
When contacted and asked the reason behind using official means to disseminate information about a private function, the Defence PRO, Parvesh Sharma, said that he had received instructions from the Headquarters ofWestern Command to release the statement.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Brig Hitesh Kohli, BGS (IW) of Western Command, said that the press release may have been issued because the Lt Governor was a former Army officer an had retired as an Army Commander. “We should look at the positive side of it,” said Brig Kohli adding that he was currently on leave.

However, just an hour after the contents of the press release made it to Twitter and drew adverse comments, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence, Sitanshu Kar took notice of it and tweeted that the PRO Chandigarh had been asked to withdraw the “avoidable” press release. Shortly thereafter, the PRO sent another statement withdrawing the release and claiming that it had been “mistakenly malied”.

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