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Tuesday, 9 June 2015

From Today's Papers - 09 Jun 2015

Despite objections from Delhi, Pak holds poll in Gilgit-Baltistan
Islamabad, June 8
Notwithstanding India’s objection, Pakistan today held legislative assembly elections in the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan region amid tight security.

The counting is already underway for 24 seats for which 272 candidates are in the fray, officials said today.

Voting began at 8 am and continued until 4pm, with minor scuffles breaking out leaving some people injured due to which balloting was temporarily suspended at certain places.

It is the second time Pakistan is holding polls to elect a regional legislature after devolution of powers in 2009 which changed the region’s name from Northern Areas to Gilgit-Baltistan and provided it with a local assembly.

Women also came out in large numbers for voting in the polls, in which ruling Pakistan Muslim League was leading at nine seats in partial counting, Geo TV reported.

According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), about 6,18,364 registered voters were expected to exercise their franchise to elect six members of the assembly from Skardu district, four from Diamer, three each from Gilgit, Hunza Nagar, Ghizer and Ganche and two from Astor. The polls were held in tight security, with 282 of the total 1,143 polling stations declared “highly sensitive” and another 269 as “sensitive”.

The candidates are representing all major parties including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) of Imran Khan and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) of ex-president Asif Ali Zardari. — PTI
Ex-servicemen seek jobs for war widows
Kuldeep Chauhan

Tribune News Service

Shimla, June 8
Ex-servicemen have demanded jobs for war widows, pension, accommodation and free education/coaching for the children of martyrs.

The 24-year-old wife of Sepoy Manoj Kumar, who was killed in the ambush at Manipur on June 4, is not well-qualified to earn a living. She has to support her children and in-laws, but is not eligible for a government job.

She will get the salary of her husband up to 35 years (the service tenure of the latter),” said Brig Kushal Thakur, Kargil War Hero, who is spearheading the Indian Army League movement for “one rank, one pay”.

Friends and relatives also turn their backs after a few days. The families of martyrs are forgotten and left to fend for themselves,: he said.

The brave soldiers of the state have won four Param Vir Chakras, 14 Maha Vir Chakras and 61 Vir Chakras, but more than 13,000 war widows are struggling to make ends meet,” said Brig Thakur, who had led the 18th Grenadiers to victory in the 1999 Kargil war.

The state has the Sainik Welfare Board while the Army has launched many schemes for the martyrs’ families, still the war widows and their families are deprived of the benefits. “We have got a complaint from Anita, a war widow from Rohtak, that the police had filed a false compliant, adding that the gas agency allotted to her remained locked up for 15 days,” Thakur added.

The cash offered by the state is meagre. “The state government should put in place a dedicated proactive rehabilitation policy for the families of the martyrs,” demanded Brig Dalip S Chajta (retd).

The war widows should get good jobs and their children should get free education,” he said.

There are 40 Kargil war widows in the state. The government should educate their children.
Constructing a narrative of war
The war of the Mahabharata left such a strong impact on Indian minds that a policy of scorched earth warfare was hardly ever followed by Indian rulers thereafter .
M Rajivlochan

This book by a professional historian traces the effect of Hinduism on the evolution of theories of warfare. ‘Broadly’ he claims ahistorically, ‘Hinduism during different historical periods has been based on certain texts. During the Vedic and epic periods, Hinduism evolved around the Vedas and the Bhagavad Gita’. The book unhesitatingly uses folk texts, like the Hitopadesha, Panchatantra and the Kathasaritsagara as being articulate about Hindu ideas.

Soon enough, Hinduism of history is transmogrified by the author into an identity with which we are familiar today, India. There are other ahistorical presumptions too on which he constructs his thesis. ‘To a large extent, Indian philosophy is theoretical’, he tells us and explains that, ‘At the same time, the Indian mind, assumed, a priori, that knowledge of truth must be practically beneficial.’

Then the author proceeds to club the Ramayana and the Mahabharata for discussion, without bothering that these two texts are far removed from each other in time and content. The Mahabharata is the story of the apocalyptic tribal war in North India. The Ramayana stands in sharp contrast to the Mahabharata. The mythical hero, Rama, the Maryada Purushottama, exercised far more influence on the Indian imagination than any of the flawed characters inhabiting the mindscape of the Mahabharata.

The war of the Mahabharata left such a strong impact on Indian minds that a policy of scorched earth warfare was hardly ever followed by Indian rulers thereafter. Asoka was so much affected by the violence of the Kalinga war that he came up with the idea of conquest by Dhamma. To say, as Roy does that ‘Asoka, somewhat like Rousseau and Kant, seems to have believed that war is antithetical to the rational order of the polities’, is at best ahistorical.

The ideas of dharmayuddha and kutayuddha are given equally contextless treatment. Picking up bits from the Manav Dharamashastra, the author suggests that Manu disagreed with the concept of kutayuddha when he disallowed the use of hidden weapons, or weapons on an unarmed combatant or a non-combatant. What the author fails to notice is that the Manav Dharmashastra, a Brahminical text, is far more concerned with restraining the use of danda by the king than with the dictates of dharma. He also misses the import of the Manav Dharmashastra that war is a utilitarian business to be engaged in only for specific results. Where it is possible to buy peace, the king should do so. War should only be engaged in when the king is in a far superior position to his enemy. Otherwise, victory in battle being dubious, it is wiser to avoid war.

This is more or less also what the Nitisara says several centuries later. Roy insists that the Nitisara is a watered-down version of the Arthashastra. That would be the equivalent of insisting that the acknowledgements section of a book is the main text. Kamandaka, the author of the Nitisara, acknowledges his debt to Kautilya.

In contrast to Kautilya, Kamandaka is clear that the use of organised violence can only be the last resort for any ruler; mostly the ruler should confine himself to sama and dama and if necessary bheda. Kautilya is almost entirely focused on the primacy of danda and war as a tool of kingship. It is Kautilya who stands alone. For, the Shanti Parva and Somadeva Suri’s Nitivakyamritam too support Kamandaka and see war as avoidable at best. Texts from India are clear: Warfare cannot be ethical and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Indian writers on dharma were well aware of this and this is perhaps why these seem far less concerned with the dictates of dharma and far more concerned with restraints on the power of the king.

Towards the end of the book, the author complains that the present Indian academic milieu, shaped as it has been by Marxist and post-Modernist ideas, tries to marginalise anyone who traces the legacies of ancient Hinduism in modern-day statecraft. Marxist historians have certainly excelled in tricking their readers through suppressing the truth and suggesting the falsehood. An adequate counter to them cannot be based on similar strategies even if the Cambridge University Press deigns to abet such designs and allow a patently ahistorical text to masquerade as history.
Shaurya Karanbir Gurung

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 7
The Border Security Force Air Wing has often been unable to give an edge to soldiers deployed in conflict areas, as its helicopters and manpower are not being properly utilised.

For the past 12 years, six Mi-17 1V helicopters which were inducted into the BSF Air Wing in 2003, have been permanently stationed in Delhi, when they could have been deployed for air support in anti-Naxal operations and along the India-China frontier. Five of the helicopters haven’t been serviced since 2012.

The Mi-17 1V has to undergo maintenance after every 50 hours of flying. Therefore, when there is a requirement, it has to fly from Delhi to the area of employment and return, drastically reducing the number of flying hours left for the task.

During last year’s devastating floods in Jammu and Kashmir, the Mi-17 1V could be used for only 35 minutes for relief operations, as it had only eight flying hours left before undergoing maintenance… the BSF Air Wing can only meet 3 per cent of our demands as the helicopters are stationed in Delhi,” said sources.

As per a Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) note of 2003, the IAF was to maintain and operate six Mi-17 1V as well as train BSF officials for a period of five years, and later, hand these over to them. This is yet to be achieved.

An IAF statement said: “The IAF is providing all support to the BSF in training and maintenance of its helicopters. The deployment of the aircraft, however, is the responsibility of the BSF. The helicopters are facing serviceability problems as most of these are due for major overhaul. This is to be done with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) in Russia/Ukraine and not by the IAF. The BSF is responsible for it.”
India, UK joint Army exercise to be held from June 13

NEW DELHI: India and UK will undertake a two-week Army exercise 'Ajeya Warrior' from June 13 focussing on joint tactical level operations in counter insurgency and counter terrorism.

The excercise will take place at Westdown Camp, Salisbury Plains Training Area in UK.

The exercise is held biannually in the two countries, alternatively.

The aim of the exercise is to build and promote positive military relations between Indian and UK Army and to enhance their ability to ..

Read more at:
Better civil-military coordination is need of the hour: Parrikar
A fortnight after a serious clash between civilians and Army personnel over access to a road passing through military precincts kept Pune on edge, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday batted for a clear set of guidelines to resolve any issues between military establishments and civil authorities in the country.

Misunderstanding can occur between civil and military authorities owing to numerous problems in cantonments, not least of which is a growing desire for more civic amenities. Issues can be ironed out with proper consultation with all stakeholders, while unambiguous guidelines can help resolve these deadlocks to a large extent,” said Mr. Parrikar, referring to the Bopkhel road closure incident.

He was here to inaugurate an orientation programme for elected representatives of Cantonment Boards under the jurisdiction of the Southern Command, headquartered in Pune.

Last month, irate residents of Bopkhel village, who were vehemently protesting against the denial of access to a road that passes through the premises of the College of Military Engineering (CME) at Dapodi, got into a major fracas with Army engineers while attempting to break through the gate.

Despite the police being called to bring the mob to order, several civilians as well as police personnel were injured in the melee.

The 2.25 km Bopkhel-Dapodi road, which affects the daily commute of more than 20,000 civilians, had been closed by defence authorities following a Bombay High Court order. The defence authorities had justified this prohibition on civilian passage by citing security of the CME campus as a prime concern.

Talking about closure of roads in cantonment areas and the revision of outdated bye-laws of Cantonment Boards, Mr. Parrikar also urged that civilians should understand and respect the ‘sensitivity’ of all military installations involving aspects of national defence.

While evading any specific alternative on the Bopkhel road impasse, the Defence Minister urged the elected representatives of Cantonment Boards to study the legal aspects of their functioning vis-à-vis the military prerogatives to ensure a better coordination with civilians in the future.

To palliate the travails of commute, Army engineers have finished construction of a temporary bridge to serve as an alternative route for Bopkhel villagers to reach their destinations.

Keywords: Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, civil-military coordination, Cantonment Boards Army installations, College of Military Engineering

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