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Monday, 27 April 2015

From Today's Papers - 27 Apr 2015

Cong wants Netaji regiment in Army
Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 26
Under fire for allegedly hiding the truth of Subhash Chandra Bose from the world, the Congress has made a bold attempt in Parliament to warm up to the deceased leader’s memory with its young MP Deepender Hooda seeking an Indian Army regiment in Netaji’s name.

Flanked by the grand nephew of Netaji, Saugata Bose, who applauded the move, Deepender introduced in Lok Sabha a private members’ Bill titled, “The Bose Regiment Bill 2015” seeking support for the constitution and regulation of a new Army regiment to be known as the Bose Regiment.

“The Regiment in Netaji’s name would be a fitting tribute to the leader whose Indian National Army hastened the process of India’s Independence,” Deepender said moving the Bill which demands the dedicated Netaji Regiment to ensure security of the Indo-Myanmar, Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bangladesh borders and the country’s north eastern frontiers.

“Let Netaji be the first and the last Individual to have this ultimate honour of having a Regiment in our Army after his name,” said the MP from Rohtak and Congress spokesperson.

The Bill comes at a time when the country is debating the troubled relationship between Netaji and former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The Congress however used today’s occasion to argue that Netaji was close to Nehru.

“Netaji’s INA’s had four regiments of which three were named after his political peers of the time - Mahatama Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Maulana Azad,” said Deepender asking why Netaji would do such a thing if he was at cross purposes with Nehru.

As the young Congress leader batted for his party and the former PM, he recalled historical facts to show that Bose shared the Nehruvian vision of socialism appointing Nehru chairman of a Congress committee Bose formed to boost planned development.

“Netaji was twice elected Congress President in 1938 and 1939 and dreamed of nation building based on planned socialism and secularism. He was the first leader to propose the creation of a Planning Commission- like institution as early as 1938 and he clearly preferred the socialistic approach to economic policy and planning. That goes to show that he shared the Nehruvian ideology,” Deepender said with the BJP working to de-classify the files related to Netaji’s death.

Deepender’s reference was to the development wherein after being elected Congress President at the Haripura session in 1938, Netaji constituted a National Planning Committee (a precursor to the Planning Commission) and invited Nehru to chair it.
Shaurya Chakra for ITBP_man
President Pranab Mukherjee today awarded the ‘Shaurya Chakra’ gallantry medal to ITBP Inspector Manjeet Singh who led his commandos in repulsing an audacious terrorist attack on the Indian Consulate in Afghanistan’s Herat province last year.

Hailing from Sonepat in Haryana, the 36-year-old ITBP officer was the lone recipient of this military medal amongst all paramilitary forces during the defence investiture ceremony held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here.

Singh was the contingent commander of the ITBP team which, in the wee hours of May 23, 2014 at the Indian Consulate in Herat, came came under heavy gunfire and rocket propelled grenade (RPG) shell attacks from terrorists. — PTI
Chetak Corps conducts war drill in R’sthan
Abohar, April 26
The Chetak Corps of the Army is holding a major battle exercise “Akraman-II” in the deserts of Rajasthan.  The exercise envisages mechanised manoeuvres in the entire spectra of new generation of weapons and weapon platforms employed in areas where rapid development and urbanisation along the border is predominant.

More than 300 combat vehicles, main battle tanks, long-range artillery guns and about 10,000 troops are participating in the exercise.

The exercise will also test the capabilities of the Indian Air Force in launching deep insertion of airborne and helicopter-borne Army units. The exercise envisages orchestration of an integrated battlefield scenario in a network-centric environment with integration of reconnaissance, surveillance and electronic warfare and communication assets to provide real-time battle and situational awareness to commanders.

Lt Gen Arun Kumar Sahni, Army Commander, Sapta Shakti Command, along with other senior officers will witness the final stages of this exercise.  — OC
IAF helicopter crashes near Suratgarh
Abohar, April 26
An Air Force MI-35 attack helicopter on a routine exercise crashed with a three member crew bailing out safely in Suratgarh city of Sriganganagar district last night.

The IAF helicopter crashed around 8.30 pm last night and three members of the crew escaped, officials said. A Court of Inquiry was ordered by the IAF, the reason behind the crash was yet to be ascertained.

An Army exercise on the ground was underway in the western sector when the mishap took place. — OC
Should Pak bask in the glory of China’s aid?
Our ruling class is living in denial if it believes that billions of dollars of Chinese investment can gloss over a long history of state repression of under-represented ethnic nations. Obviously, China’s development plans are a part of a larger strategic blueprint
BEYOND the spectacle, what is the long-term significance of the Chinese president's much-hyped two-day visit to Islamabad? Grandstanding aside, what stood out most was the virtual unanimity of mainstream political parties that China and Pakistan are — in Prime Minister Sharif's words —”truly iron brothers”.

Consensus across political divides is very rare in this country; even more so when the military establishment chimes in.

So should we all follow suit and bask in the glory of the Asian superpower's unmatched economic and political commitments to Pakistan's development? As with everything else that matters in this country, there has till now been little meaningful debate outside the highest echelons of power about China's ever-expanding role both in Pakistan and the wider region. I will note down here only some pointers that might stimulate such a debate.

But first an anecdote which illuminates how we choose our friends and foes. China has been lauded by Pakistani officialdom since at least the early 1960s, and particularly after the border conflict erupted between China and India in 1962. At the height of the Cold War, communist China's credentials were never questioned. Yet the also communist Soviet Union was demonised as the international sponsor of kufr. China is still run by a communist party, and everyone from the mullahs to the generals talk up its greatness. The point is that Islam and Pakistaniat can clearly coexist with supposedly contradictory ideologies so long as “national security” needs are served.

Having said this, is China's patronage preferable to that of the US with whom we have collaborated for so many decades? There is the obvious fact — noted even by the American media — that the tens of billions of dollars committed by the Chinese president will be invested in physical infrastructure like roads, whereas Washington has never committed as much money and usually prioritises military hardware and training. In this sense alone China's patronage would appear to promise more benefits to ordinary Pakistanis than the Americans have ever offered.

Yet it would be wise not to make too much of the development versus military binary. “Development” has been a major mechanism through which US imperial interests have been pursued since the end of the World War II, starting with the Marshall Plan in Western Europe and then similar initiatives vis-à-vis Japan and the four East Asian “tigers”. Yes in Pakistan Washington's “development” footprint has been limited, but it would be foolish to assume that China's substantial “development” plans in this country are not part of a larger strategic blueprint.

The question is whether China's strategic concerns and our development needs converge. It is no secret that Pakistan is a deeply divided polity, particularly across ethno-linguistic lines. Progressives and nationalists in both Balochistan and Sindh are highly suspicious about Chinese interventions in their respective regions — and here I am not referring exclusively to separatists.

Our ruling class is living in denial if it believes that billions of dollars of Chinese investment can gloss over a long history of state repression of underrepresented ethnic nations. Fourteen years of infrastructural investments in and around Kabul have not helped the US get any closer to establishing sustainable peace in Afghanistan, let alone accessing oil and gas off the Caspian Sea. There is no linear relationship between the influx of economic capital and the resolution of political conflict.

Let's take the point further. One reason why progressives have opposed US intervention here is that it has impeded democracy and empowered the military establishment. One of the least discussed aspects of the Chinese president's visit was the announcement by the DG ISPR that a 10,000-strong military force will be readied to provide protection to the so-called economic corridor from Gwadar through the Chinese border on the northern tip of Pakistan.

Did parliament authorise this new military force? Do the Chinese do business with GHQ as much as the Americans have been known to do? How are we supposed to view such initiatives in the face of an already draconian political status quo in Balochistan through which most of the economic corridor will pass?

There is a suggestion that China has been instrumental in forcing the military to abandon some of its harebrained “strategic” objectives in Afghanistan. Could this just be one side of a cynical deal whereby the Chinese endorse and oversee a “final solution” to the Baloch “problem”, one which the army leadership has recently once again attributed to foreign conspiracies (read: India)?

In posing these questions, I am only indicating the need to go beyond superficial and overly optimistic readings of the Chinese encounter. We need to kick the habit of jumping on every bandwagon that comes our way without thinking twice about where we will end up.

The writer teaches at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. By arrangement with the Dawn
Indian Army Everest Team Pulls Out Bodies of 19 Foreign Climbers
New Delhi:  An Indian Army Everest Expedition team has helped pull out the bodies of 19 foreign climbers from the Everest camp. The team was training at the Base Camp at Everest when a massive temblor hit Nepal on Saturday, triggering an avalanche that buried their equipment. The Indian Army team is safe.

The team also brought to safety 61 injured people.

The medical officer accompanying the army expedition has treated a number of injured international mountaineers besides the 61 injured climbers.
The team also provided considerable medicines and rations from their own resources to help the other climbers.

Six helicopters were sent to the avalanche-hit area on Saturday, but only two could operate because of inclement weather.

"Indian Army expedition team continues to assist in rescue operations," the ministry of defence spokesperson Sitanshu Kar tweeted.

Tulsi Prasad Gautam, executive director of Nepal's department of tourism, told Xinhua that a few of the injured climbers were being treated in Pheriche village near Lukla.

Other climbers were on their way down from the base camp, Gautam said.

Saturday's earthquake, measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale, killed over 2,500 people and left 5,850 injured. The temblor had its epicentre in Lamjung district, around 75 km northwest of Kathmandu.

It also triggered a series of avalanches which hit Mount Everest base camp.
Delays Plague Indian Army Comm Program
NEW DELHI — Procedural disputes are delaying development of the Indian Army's Tactical Communication System (TCS), the first weapon project slated for the "Make in India" category, said a Ministry of Defence source.

Two development agencies (DAs) were tapped to compete for TCS. The first is a consortium composed of private sector defense companies, and the other is state-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL). The private company consortium said it would not proceed with development of a TCS prototype until it receives the same tax incentives as are given to BEL, and insists that the intellectual property rights of the system be vested with the developer and not the Ministry of Defence.

Since the selection of the DAs in early 2014, no headway has been made in the development of a TCS prototype, the source added.

The private sector DA includes Larsen & Toubro, Tata Power SED and HCL Ltd., which have formed a special purpose vehicle based on an equity-sharing basis.

Under the "Make in India" category, each DA will develop two TCS prototypes at a cost of $100 million each. The government will finance 80 percent of the costs for the prototypes, which will then be evaluated, tested on the ground and one will be shortlisted for production. The process is expected to take about 36 months.

The Army will use TCS to provide a dedicated mobile communication system with anti-jamming and electronic countermeasures capabilities.

Demanding a level playing field, an executive with the private sector DA said, "The Indian government has already created facilities in BEL which would be utilized by them free of cost, whereas the private sector consortium would have to make investments that would be loaded on our offer. Ideally, the depreciation and interest of the MoD-funded facilities should at least be loaded on BEL to ensure a level playing field. This is still an issue to be resolved."

In addition, because BEL is state-owned, it gets special tax incentives on the import of technologies that are not imparted to private sector companies.

An executive from another company in the private- sector DA said, "The major problem is legal as the special purpose vehicle formed by private consortia is not yet recognized by MoD. However, in their efforts to move forward, the qualitative requirements have been shared by the user [Indian Army] for DAs to respond with their costs for the prototype. That discussion is on currently. However, even if this is cleared, the legal clearance has to happen prior to disbursement of funding by MoD."

Since TCS would be a dedicated strategic project, the Army will want to ensure the technologies built into the prototype and the final system are "sanitized," an Indian Army official said, meaning the technologies are developed exclusively for the Army and will not be shared.

Uncertainty exists among the DAs about how the Army will ensure the technologies, whether homegrown or imported, are sanitized.

"I hope this process of sanitization does not become too much of an interference in the development," said the first executive.

"The DAs have to take an undertaking from the overseas equipment manufacturers for unrestricted use of the imported technologies. The norms for checks on technologies would be uniform for both DAs," the executive added.

TCS was conceived in 2000 but was delayed because the MoD was unable to decide in which category the TCS should be built. Initially, the plan was to build the project on a "Buy and Make" basis, which would involve overseas companies. But later, BEL urged the MoD to give it the contract since it involved a strategic project.

In 2012, the MoD decided to build the project in the "Make in India" category and in early 2014 shortlisted the two DAs.

The Army needs TCS as quickly as possible, an Army official said, expressing concern the procedural dispute will cause further delays. "Even Pakistan has developed its own TCS kind of project, and further delays of the Indian project will affect the combat worthiness of the Indian Army," the official added.

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