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Wednesday, 1 April 2015

From Today's Papers - 01 Apr 2015

Navy ship rescues 300 Indians from Yemen
jay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 31
Nearly 300 Indians stranded in strife-torn Yemen were rescued by the Indian Navy in a midnight operation from port city Aden.

This was the first immediate evacuation after the INS Sumitra, which had been waiting outside the Aden harbour, sailed in soon after India received clearance to dock its ships in the evening. It sailed into a barrage of bombs around 10:30pm and left with nearly 300 people on board around 1am.

The ship, which was on regular anti-piracy duties, has self defence weapons but cannot protect against multiple handheld weapons or shoulder-fired missiles.

The second phase of the rescue operation christened “Operation Raahat” will commence after two additional Indian Naval warships — INS Mumbai and INS Tarkash dispatched yesterday — will reach near Yemen. Two passenger liners MV Kavaratti and MV Corals have also departed from Kochi.

The four ships will rendezvous in the Arabian Sea sometime late on April 1 and move as a composite group to Djibouti, located on the east coast of Africa and separated from Aden by narrow strait the Bab-El-Mandeb. Nearly 3,500 Indians are still stuck in other cities of the country.

International news agencies have reported intense fighting between the Saudi-led forces and the rebels on the outskirts of Aden. China and Pakistan have evacuated their nationals in the past two days.

Delhi plans to evacuate personnel to Djibouti by ship, from where an Air India plane and two IAF strategic airlifters C-17 – on standby in Delhi – will pick them up. The US and the French have their naval airbases in Djibouti which are to be used by the IAF planes and Air India.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought help from Saudi Arabia and called up King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud. Modi sought Saudi Arabia’s support and cooperation in the evacuation. Recalling the “strong and close” relations between both nations, the Saudi King assured Modi of his full attention to the safety of Indians in Yemen and all possible assistance for their early and safe evacuation. The Prime Minister shared his deep concern about the safety and welfare of nearly 4,000 Indians in Yemen. He briefed His Majesty King Salman on India’s evacuation plan and sought his support and cooperation in the evacuation process.
VK Singh leavesfor Djibouti

    Minister of State for External Affairs General VK Singh (retd) left for Djibouti, a country neighbouring Yemen, on Tuesday to oversee evacuation of nearly 4,000 Indians from strife-torn Yemen
    The exercise has been christened ‘Operation Raahat’ under which five ships and four aircraft have been deployed
36 dead as Yemen’s Houthis shell Aden; Saudi jets pound airport
Aden/Sanaa, March 31
Yemen’s Houthi militiamen and allied army units shelled Aden overnight while Saudi-led coalition jets bombed their positions near the airport, killing at least 36 people, officials and witnesses said on Tuesday.

Iran-allied Houthis are pushing on the outskirts of the city, the last bastion of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, despite six days of Saudi-led air strikes meant to stem their advance.

Artillery fire on the Khor Maksar district of _Aden killed 26 persons overnight, a health ministry official said.

Shells hit a residential building in the area close to a private residence once used by Hadi — who is _now abroad in Saudi Arabia — killing 10 militiamen loyal to the President, a witness said.

Coalition planes bombed Houthi fighters and their army allies in the area of the airport, which has traded hands between the two warring sides during over a week of heavy fighting. It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties.

Residents of the city reported shops were shuttered and streets were deserted for fear of worsening security.

In the southern province of Dhalea, Hadi loyalists, who were backed up by five coalition air strikes on Tuesday, reported heavy shelling and street _fighting with the Houthis and their allies.

Overnight and into early hours today, the coalition bombed the Iran-backed rebels around the capital, Sanaa, according to Yemeni military officials. The strikes targeted Houthi positions and camps, as well as weapons depots controlled by the rebels, the officials said.

Iran sends aid
Iran said it sent an aid shipment to Yemen, according to the official IRNA news agency Teshran’s first such _delivery since the Saudi-led air strikes started last Thursday. The aid contained 19 tonnes of medicines and medical equipment and two tons of food provided by the Iranian Red Crescent, IRNA said.

The agency reported that the aid was delivered by air early Tuesday but did not say where the cargo landed. The coalition has bombed a number of rebel-held airports and has announced it is in full control of Yemen’s airspace. — Agencies
Soccer Glory Days Back at Army Service Corps Centre
BENGALURU: Army Service Corps & Centre, South, are back to their glory days. So used to being on top, the once-famous army outfit had been languishing on the sidelines for long. But recently they captured the super division soccer title and provided enough proof that they are not going to look back any more.

However, look back they will. For it is their history that has pushed them  to the top and it is their history which will propel them higher and higher.  ASC recently gained affiliation and earned promotion from C division to  the B division. They soon climbed to the next step and now they have won the Super  division title within a short time span.
But sadly their success comes at a time when the club licensing policy has  wrought the death-knell of institutional teams in the country. The same  sector can turn up and play in other countries in whatever garb. It is  completely okay with the Asia Football Confederation. But Indian teams  cannot. MEG won the league some time back and they were not allowed to take  part in the I-League second division. ASC too will meet the same fate unless  the Services Sports Control Board steps in and initiates a dialogue with the  AIFF on how to make way for defence units to be part of the I-League.

Recently, Singapore team Warriors FC played the AFC Cup match against Bengaluru FC. The team was earlier known as the Singapore Armed Forces FC. Asked if it still had a connection with the armed forces, their English coach Alex Weaver answered in the affirmative. “Yes, we do maintain a  connection but to fulfill certain conditions we changed the name of the  club,” said Alex to a pointed question.

“One hopes for the sake of defence football, which has given so many great  players to India, they take up the matter and do something,” said Premkumar,  the former ASC, Services, Karnataka and India goalkeeper.

Bishen Singh, Latif, Shankaran Kutty, Md Aziz, Jarua, Govindan, Peter,  Munda, Basheer, A K Gupta, Jayachandran, Uthaman, John Brooks, D’Cruz, Babu  Rao, Reddy, Muthuraj, goalkeepers Kumaran, Mondal and Premkumar formed an incredible bunch of players who took ASC to great heights not long ago.

ASC had problems with transfers with players being sent to their other units  around the country. Unable to have a permanent base for players, ASC did not  take part in the league but never failed to enter knock out tournaments, be it the Stafford Cup, Puttaiah Memorial tournament or the CM’s Cup. In fact  these tournaments saw participation of teams from other cities also.

If the Indian team had a camp in Bangalore, an India XI would also enter to give the players match practice and make them sharper.

So it was in 1971-72 or so when the India XI clashed with ASC in the  Stafford Cup at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium. Players like Aziz, Shankaran  Kutty, Govindan, Jarua dazzled like never before to make the Indian team  aspirants look like novices. Such was the authority of their display that sent the packed 25,000 crowd wild with delight.

The efforts of former footballers and coaches like A K Gupta and Premkumar has paid off eventually. It is this duo which strove to get the team re-affiliated and now ASC has reaped rich rewards.

Defence units like ASC, MEG, CIL, LRDE, 515 Army Base Workshop have made immense contribution for football in the state and the country. ASC’s rise should inspire others to match and even surpass them. Karnataka and Indian football can only benefit should that happen.
Discussing defence with no holds barred
New Delhi, Mar.31. (ANI) India has yet to completely get over its colonial hangover as far as the defence administration of the country is concerned. During the colonial period, the Commander- in- Chief, took decisions in consultation with his masters in London.

After Independence, Jawaharlal Nehru decided that decisions regarding the defence of the country would be taken by the Ministry of Defence in consultation with the Defence Committee of the Cabinet. The Commander -in- Chief, who later became the Chief of Army Staff, accepted directions from the Defence Minister. He had no authority over the Navy or the Air Force, which had their own Chiefs of Staff.

The Defence Minister had meetings with the Chiefs of Staff of the Army, Navy and the Air Force to get advice on defence issues. The Chiefs of Staff had access to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, but it got tapered off after Krishna Menon became Defence Minister.

The Armed Forces of the country, however, were involved in maintaining the unity and integrity of the country ever since it became independent. The post partition violence and the refugee influx placed a heavy responsibility on the Army to maintain peace in Border States. Soon after, Jammu and Kashmir was invaded, and the State had to be protected against 'raiders' from Pakistan.

A major challenge that the country faced was the Chinese attack in 1962. Jawaharlal Nehru never thought China would attack, and the humiliating reverses during that war resulted in the withdrawal of the Indian Army from the North East Frontier Agency to the plains of Assam.

General K. S. Thimayya had cautioned the government in 1959 about China, but Jawaharlal Nehru was confident that the northern neighbour would never attack India.

Post-1962, the government took steps to strengthen defences along the northern border, but the basic structure of the defence ministry remained the same. The Defense Committee of the Cabinet was not revived after 1962. The role was taken over by the Cabinet Committee on Security which invited the Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces on request. The situation continued to remain the same even after the India Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971.

Indira Gandhi, who was the Prime Minister in 1971, did have consultations with Army Chief, General (later Field Marshal) Sam Manekshaw , following the crackdown by the Pakistan Army in East Pakistan and the influx of millions of refugees into the country. In the war that followed, India emerged victorious. Indira Gandhi made an effort to raise the level of the Chief of Army Staff to that of a Field Marshal, but it was resisted by the Air Force and the civilian bureaucracy.

The next shock that the country faced was the Kargil conflict, when the country had to face a nuclear-armed neighbour who had intruded across the Line of Control. The Armed Forces had to pay a heavy price to evict the intruders.

As General Deepak Kapoor , a former Chief of Army Staff, has pointed out in his article, post-Kargil conflict in 1999, the Government of India realised the overwhelming need for defence reforms . The Kargil Review Committee, set up after the Kargil conflict, noted that "India is perhaps the only major democracy where the armed forces headquarters are outside the apex governmental structure".

The committee recommended the creation of an integrated defence staff, an integrated command structure and the setting up of the office of a Chief of Defence Staff, who will be associated with decision making on defence matters at the highest level.

It has been over a decade, and the country is yet to see a Chief of Defence Staff. The new Defence Minister, Manohar Parikkar, has stated that he would soon appoint a Chief of Defence Staff. One has to wait and see when it will happen. The basic reason is that the Chiefs of Staff are reluctant to give up their "command" role, a colonial hangover, even though the British masters have changed their system long ago.

As Admiral (retired) Arun Prakash has pointed out in his piece, "while the military seethes with dissatisfaction at perceived imbalances, the political establishment and civilian bureaucracy are quite content with the way things are, and remain staunch upholders of status quo".

The book contains a detailed analysis by Vinod Misra on acquisition in defence, and a comprehensive article on the Defence Research and Development Organisation by the missile scientist Dr Sivathanu Pillai. Lt. Gen. (retired) Satish Nambiar, in his article on defence manpower, has projected the professionalism achieved by the Indian Armed Forces and given valuable recommendations.

Satya Narain Mishra in his article has pointed out that India's military industry complex, consists of nine Defence Public Secretor Undertakings, 40 Ordnance Factories, 50 DRDO laboratories, 140 private defence companies and 500 small and medium enterprises who are involved in production of around items.

The Defence Public Sector Under takings are engaged in the manufacture of a wide range of products like helicopters, fighters, warships, submarines, patrol vessels, heavy vehicles and earthmovers, missiles and a variety of electronic devices. The 40 Ordnance Factories are engaged in production of small arms and ammunition for all the weapons systems, clothing, besides armoured and transport vehicles.

However, the country is not self-reliant, and today India is one of the world's biggest importers of defence equipment. Many of the purchases have, periodically, been affected by allegations of corrupt practices. One remembers the scandal that broke out in the late 1980s in which Rs.64 crores were offered to Indian agencies in the purchase of Bofors guns. The scandal cost Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi his office. During the UPA government many defence purchases were put on hold by Defence Minister A. K. Antony and today the Armed Forces lack modern armament like aircraft and artillery.

The book contains a comprehensive article on how to strengthen India's defence and industrial base by Ravindra Gupta. The contributions by Satya Narain Misra and Laxman Kumar Behera provide suggestions on the Arms Trade Offset: Global Trend and 'Best Practices'. Vinod Misra in his contribution provides an oversight in defence and the need to ensure operational preparedness of the Armed Forces. Kanwal Sibal, a former Foreign Secretary, has given a comprehensive piece on India's security environment and its impact on India's defence which gives "the country no choice but to build up a robust defence capability with self-reliance as our goal".

As claimed, the book seeks to put together perceptions, views and recommendations of a host of practitioners at the highest level from the civil and military bureaucracy who have had some unmatched insights into the complex world of Indian Defence and its decision making structures and process. It deserves to be on the table of every bureaucrat, civil or military.

Book Review: Core concern in Indian Defence and the Imperatives for Reforms; edited by Vinod Misra; Pentagon Press; pages 374. Price Rs 1095.

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