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Saturday, 11 April 2015

From Today's Papers - 11 Apr 2015

India to buy 36 Rafale jets from France: Modi
Two sides ink 20 pacts | Hollande promises 2 billion euros investment in urban sector
Marking a breakthrough in the protracted talks in the French Rafale jet deal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today announced that India will purchase 36 of these fighter planes that are ready to fly, citing critical operational requirement of the Indian Air Force.
Modi announced this at a joint news conference with French President Francois Hollande after their summit talks at Elysee palace.
The 36 planes would constitute two squadrons. The IAF has 34 squadrons and 42 are required for a simultaneous two-front war with China and Pakistan. India and France were locked in negotiations for three years over the purchase of 126 Rafale fighter jets valued at $12 billion but has been bogged down over cost and Dassault Aviation's reluctance to stand guarantee for 108 planes to be made by state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
“Keeping in mind critical operational necessity of fighter jets in India, I have talked to him (Hollande) and requested for 36 Rafale jets in fly-away condition as quickly as possible under government-to-government deal," Modi said. An agreement on the stalled nuclear project in Jaitapur of Maharashtra was among the 17 pacts signed after the talks between Modi and Hollande.
The Jaitapur project, where French company Areva is to set up six nuclear reactors with total power generation capacity of about 10,000 MW, is stuck for long because of differences over the cost of electricity to be generated.

The agreement between India's Larsen and Toubro and France's Areva is aimed at cost reduction by increasing localisation, to improve financial viability of the Jaitapur project.
Another pact related to pre-engineering agreements between the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) and Areva in connection with studies that intend to bring clarity on all technical aspects of the plant so that all parties (Areva, Alstom and NPCIL) can firm up their price and optimise all provisions for risks still included at this stage in the costs of the project. It will also enable transfer of technology and development of indigenous nuclear energy industry in India.
France also informed India about its decision to implement a scheme for expedited 48-hour visa issuance for Indian tourists. — Agencies
26/11 mastermind Lakhvi walks free
Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, who guided 10 LeT gunmen from a control room during the 26/11 Mumbai attack, today walked free after being under detention for six years, a day after a Pakistani court ordered his release.

Lakhvi (55), mastermind of the nearly 60-hour siege, was released from Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi after authorities received the order from the Lahore High Court, setting free the LeT operations commander.

India had strongly reacted to the court’s decision, saying it “eroded” the value of assurances repeatedly conveyed to it by Pakistan on cross-border terrorism.

A member of Lakhvi’s legal team today submitted the High Court order to the jail authorities and they released him at 1.40 pm.

Jamaat-ud-Dawa supporters were present outside the prison to receive Lakhvi. Some four to five cars reached outside the Adiala Jail at around 1 pm and as soon Lakhvi came out of the jail, he got into his car and left for his Islamabad residence.

JuD spokesman Yahya Mujahid did not offer any comment on Lakhvi’s release when PTI contacted him.

“We have released Lakhvi after a member of his legal team presented the LHC order. There has been no direction from the government to either detain or release him”, a jail official said.

Earlier in the day, the government’s legal team discussed several options to keep Lakhvi behind the bars. However, it could not offer any legal ground to further detain him.

A government law officer earlier said it was difficult for the government to go for the option of detaining Lakhvi again under the Maintenance of Public Order which had been suspended twice by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and Lahore High Court.

Lakhvi’s counsel Raja Rizwan Abbasi said, “The government was left with no other ‘legal option’ but to release his client after the LHC suspended his detention. Neither the government nor the Adiala Jail authorities could violate the court’s order this time”, he said.

Lakhvi and six others have been charged with planning and executing the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 persons and wounded over 300 others. — PTI
WW-I legacy: Sikh to run in UK marathon
India’s World War-I martyrs will be remembered when Angad Singh runs the Brighton Marathon on Sunday. Dressed in the uniform of an Indian soldier from that era, Angad, 27, says he is raising funds and awareness for a British Charity, the UK Punjab Heritage Association, which tells the story of Sikhs in the war. He is the son of Amritpal Singh from Solkhian village in Ropar who came to the UK in the late 1970s.

“They need help so they can share family stories of Sikhs in the UK and their ancestors who fought for Britain, and to create education packs even a documentary about this incredible but relatively unknown part of British history,” Angad says, who has his own charity page listed as

Brighton Marathon matches similar events in New York and London. But Angad’s decision to run in this particular marathon is because Brighton is where wounded Indian soldiers were treated between 1914 and 1918.
India, China vow to keep border peace
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 10
India and China today concluded their two-day annual defence dialogue (ADD) with a promise of maintaining peace along the 3,488-km-long disputed frontier, a vision outlined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at their September 2014 summit in India.
Indian Defence Secretary Radha Krishna Mathur met Chinese State Councillor and Defence Minister Chang Wanquan today, a Chinese Defence Ministry statement said. At the talks, Mathur said India was willing to implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state (Modi and Xi) on pushing forward high-level contacts and strengthening cooperation between the two militaries, it said.
The militaries of the two countries are expected to control divergence of opinion at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in a proper way, strengthen strategic mutual trust, deepen pragmatic cooperation and make contributions to safeguarding the regional and world peace and stability, Chang added.
Mathur addressed the boundary issue and its sensitivities, saying the “bilateral ties between the two nations rest on the relations between the two militaries as well as the peace and tranquility in the India-China border areas".
The two armies stand virtually face-to-face across the Himalayan ridgeline and flare ups are common as there is no demarcated border. The two sides have discussed more border personnel meeting point along the disputed frontier in eastern and south-eastern Ladakh.
At present, local commanders meet at Spanngur Gap in eastern Ladakh. Discussions have taken place to designate Track Junction, Pangang Tso Lake, Demchock and Chumar s points for emergency meetings between the border personnel. The two sides have meeting points at Bum-La near Tawang Arunachal Pradesh and Nathu-La in north-eastern Sikkim to sort out local issues.
The ADD also discussed the proposal of allowing military officers on either side to attend courses at specialised military training academies in each other's country.
The two sides also discussed the possibility of expanding the framework of ‘hand-in-hand’, a counter-terrorism military exercise.
Pentagon chief vows to deploy ‘best’ US weaponry in Asia
Defence Secretary Ashton Carter promised today that the US would deploy state of the art weaponry in Asia, including the latest stealth bombers and cyber warfare units, to counter threats posed by the likes of North Korea.

“Our newest and best things are being deployed to this part of the world,” Carter said in Seoul - the second leg of a visit to the two key US military allies in the region, Japan and South Korea.

The Pentagon chief said his talks with South Korean Defence Minister Han Min-Koo had included a “candid assessment” of the threat posed to the Korean peninsula — “and the US homeland” — by North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programme.

“As it demonstrated once again with the recent missile launches, North Korea is intent on continued provocation,” he told reporters.

The North fired two surface-to-air missiles off its west coast on Tuesday, just as Carter arrived in Japan on the first leg of his tour.

Earlier, it had test fired a series of short range ballistic missiles to express its anger with annual South Korean-US military exercises which Pyongyang condemns as rehearsals for invasion.

The United States has close to 30,000 troops permanently stationed in South Korea and would assume operational command of both armed forces in the event of a conflict with the North. The two Koreas remain technically at war because the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a ceasefire rather than a peace treaty. — AFP
Yemen crisis: Pak declines Saudi call for military help
Aden, April 10
Pakistan’s Parliament voted on Friday not to join the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen, dashing Riyadh’s hopes for a powerful support from outside of the region in its fight to halt the advance of Iranian-allied Houthi rebels.

Saudi Arabia had asked fellow Sunni-majority Pakistan to provide ships, aircraft and troops for the campaign, now in its third week, to stem the influence of Shia Iran in what appears to be a proxy war between the Gulf’s two dominant powers.

While Saudi Arabia has the support of its Sunni Gulf Arab neighbours, Pakistan’s Parliament voted against becoming militarily involved.

It adopted a draft resolution calling on all sides to resolve their differences peacefully in a “deteriorating security and humanitarian situation” which has “implications for peace and stability of the region.” “(Parliament) desires that Pakistan should maintain neutrality in the Yemen conflict so as to be able to play a proactive diplomatic role to end the crisis,” it said, while expressing “unequivocal support for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” and promising to “stand shoulder to shoulder with Saudi Arabia and its people” if Saudi territory were violated.

Pakistan’s government has yet to comment publicly on the draft but has said it would comply with Parliament’s decision.

The Saudi-led coalition began air strikes in Yemen against the Houthis on March 26 after the rebels, who already control the capital, began a rapid advance towards the southern port city of Aden.

Saudi Arabia is concerned that the violence could spill over the border it shares with Yemen, and is also worried about the influence of Iran, which has denied Saudi allegations it has provided direct military support to the Houthis. —Agencies
India, China defence officials conclude talks
Beijing: Indian and Chinese defence officials on Friday wrapped up three-day talks right here on a number of points together with figuring out further border factors for interplay and CBMs to enhance relations between the 2 forces on the borders, amid reviews of recent face offs on the LAC.

The seventh Annual Defence and Security Dialogue (ADSD) was held within the backdrop of China expressing a want to hyperlink up its Maritime Silk Road (MSR) challenge with India’s ‘Mausam’ plans and trilateral cooperation between India, China and Sri Lanka to deal with India’s safety considerations within the Indian Ocean.

The talks happened forward of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s go to to China subsequent month.

Defence Secretary, S N Mathur who headed the Indian delegation referred to as on Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan and mentioned numerous features of army ties between the 2 nations, an Indian Embassy press launch right here stated.

Mathur prolonged Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s invitation to Chang to go to India.

Mathur who arrived right here on April 8 held each formal and casual talks with Chinese officials within the final three days.

At at the moment’s talks co-chaired by Mathur and Deputy Chief of General Staff of PLA, Admiral Sun Jianguo, each side recalled the substantive outcomes and understandings reached, together with within the army sphere through the go to of President Xi Jinping to India final yr.

“The two sides famous that the management of each nations had recognised the upkeep of peace and tranquillity on the borders as an necessary guarantor for the event and progress of the bilateral relationship between each nations.

“During the assembly, each side exchanged views on quite a few regional and international safety problems with mutual curiosity together with the safety state of affairs within the Asia-Pacific area,” the press launch stated.

“They agreed on the necessity to broaden army cooperation and for figuring out new avenues of engagement. Indian aspect welcomed the proposed go to of Central Military Commission Vice Chairman Fan Changlong to India within the second half of 2015,” it stated.

Both sides took word of the profitable conduct of the Joint Army train in India in 2014 and agreed to conduct the subsequent train in China in 2015.

The talks happened behind stories that Indian and Chinese troops lately had two face-offs alongside the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, in the identical space the place People’s Liberation Army had pitched camps in April, 2013 resulting in a 3-week lengthy stalemate.

Indian officials say Chinese troops appeared at Burtse and Depsang areas north of Ladakh, first on March 20 after which on March 28, apparently as a part of makes an attempt to succeed in Old Patrol Point, the final established base of Indian safety forces.

China says such incidents takes place due to totally different perceptions of the LAC.

The defence officials talks had an added significance as Modi is predicted to go to China subsequent month throughout which border problem would come up in his conferences with Chinese leaders.

About the ADSD talks, the Chinese defence ministry assertion stated there’s in-depth change of views on the regional safety state of affairs, bilateral army relations and problems with widespread concern.

In his assembly with Mathur, Chang stated China-India relations have maintained an excellent momentum of wholesome and secure improvement.

China is dedicated to advertise strategic cooperative partnership to realize new improvement in bilateral relations and hoped that the 2 armies collectively implement the essential consensus reached by the 2 heads of state, correctly handle and management variations, improve strategic mutual belief, deepen pragmatic cooperation and make constructive efforts to safeguard regional and world peace and stability.

During the talks each side agreed the border session mechanism has performed constructive position to reinforce mutual belief and promote cooperation, the Chinese assertion stated Full Text RSS Feed
Zee News :India National
Maneka Gandhi has a point: Indian Army's animal practices need a rethink
The British Army's Gorkha regiments have changed their attitude to animal sacrifice. India should follow their example.
Ashok K Mehta
The champion of animal rights, the Minister for Women & Child Development Maneka Gandhi raised two important issues with the Ministry of Defence in a letter this week: the sacrifice of animals by Gorkha regiments and the air-drop of live animals for troops in field areas.

Her letters to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, and his predecessor, Arun Jaitley, of her own government have gone unanswered, according to media reports.

The subject of animal rights certainly requires to be considered, but this must be done in the context of religious, cultural and traditional sensitivities of Gorkha soldiers.

Gorkha traditions

Animals are sacrificed not just by Gorkha battalions but also by a number of other hill troops like Kumaonis and Garhwalis and tribals like Mizos and Nagas, primarily during religious or cultural ceremonies.

The majority of troops in Gorkha regiments hail from Nepal. They follow a traditional custom of sacrifice of animals – mainly male buffaloes (rango) and goats (khasi) during Dussehra. This is Nepal's most sacred festival of Nepal and was incorporated in the list of festivities celebrated by the British Gorkha regiments, most of which opted to stay with India at the time of Partition.

In the 1950s, most of the 30-odd Gorkha battalions (39 today) during Dussehra would sacrifice two rangoes, one during Kalratri and one as Mahabalidan the following day, corresponding to Ashtami and Vijayadashami. The buffaloes were full grown, sometimes taller than the diminutive Gorkha who was required to sever the head with one clean swipe of the special khukuri.

Both the Gorkha soldier chosen for the honour and the weapon had to undergo ritual prayers soliciting goddess Durga's blessings. The goddess forbid, should the khukuri not perform a clean cut, which happens rarely – the hapless soldier's face has to be smeared with the blood of the buffalo so that no evil befalls the battalion. When any misfortune – a mega ambush or an IED incident – occurs, units where a sacrifice has gone awry attribute the tragedy to it.

Changing times

During Mahabalidan, parallel khasi sacrifice ceremonies are held in all the six companies of the battalion where "meat on hoof" is served as prasad. All the weapons of the battalion are blessed by Durga Mata and the religious teacher of the battalion. The two sacrifice ceremonies, once cleanly completed, are followed by endless sessions of naach and equally endless bouts of drinking to remove the palpable tension preceding the rango sacrifices.

One other ritual used to be performed: every subaltern who joined the battalion had to personally decapitate a khasi for his acceptance into the unit.

The acceptance test in vintage times included the knowledge of spoken Nepali and Gorkha customs as well as familiarity with village life. This made treks in Nepal by subalterns mandatory with a visit to Kathmandu to get the big picture.

During Dussehra in Kathmandu's Hanuman Dhoka, thousands of buffaloes are sacrificed.

Changing traditions

Rewind to 1958 at Alipore Lines Calcutta where the VC Battalion (three Victoria Cross winners during World War II) Second Five Gorkha Rifles is celebrating Dussehra. As a young officer, I witnessed the week-long religious ceremonies culminating in Kalratri celebrations. The all-night naach was interrupted briefly at the midnight hour when the first rango was sacrificed and the Commanding Officer rewarded the Gorkha for his feat with a saafa or turban.

Officers dressed in black tie along with the men of the battalion stayed awake all night with a 20-minute interlude to change into regimental blazer and tie, ready for Mahabalidan. When asked how this tradition came about the second in command, Maj Dini Mistry replied: “Partly inherited from the Brits, partly invented by us... after all, that's how traditions are made”.

Today, most likely none of the 39 Gorkha battalions celebrates Dussehra in completely the old style. Some have either done away with buffalo sacrifice or reduced it to either Kalratri or Mahabalidan. A suitable male buffalo is not always available in some parts of the country. Unlike khasi meat, buffalo meat is not publicly eaten by Gorkhas though Gurung soldiers relish it. Dug and buried, decapitated buffaloes are poached by lower-caste Nepalis. The two years 4/5 Gorkha Rifles were located in Dehradun, buffalo sacrifice was done away with as Uttarakhand does not permit sacrifice of animals inside a temple.

The British Gorkhas discontinued the sacrifice of buffaloes in the early 1970s while their Gorkhas were deployed in Hong Kong, Brunei and UK. Today they allow just one animal to be sacrificed as many changes have been introduced but with consent of the Gorkha Major who is the seniormost Gorkha in the unit.

If Menaka Gandhi has said “animal sacrifice is not intrinsic to any culture or practice”, she is not correct as these practices are religious and cultural, traced to Nepal. Still, she has raised pertinent issues for all soldiers, including Gorkhas. Even if she does not relate the present practice to traditional customs followed by Gorkha regiments , Army Headquarters should suggest, through the Gorkha Brigade Association, evolving corrective measures similar to those implemented by the British Gorkhas

As for air-dropping animals which Gandhi describes as "barbaric", in the old days, Caribou aircraft would paradrop goats called "meat on hoof" to certain difficult areas. Gorkhas would wait with their khukuris in the Dropping Zone, ready to perform the necessary drill should an animal break a limb or die. Here too, Gandhi's recommendation should be accepted and only in inaccessible areas should the animal be paradropped – and as humanely as possible.

Major General (retd) Ashok K Mehta was commissioned in the 5th Gorkha Rifles infantry regiment of the Indian Army in 1957.

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