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Tuesday, 7 July 2015

From Today's Papers - 07 Jul 2015

Militants kill 60 in Nigeria
Jos, July 6
A day of extremist violence against both Muslims and Christians in Nigeria killed more than 60 people, including worshipers in a mosque who came to hear a cleric known for preaching peaceful coexistence of all faiths.

Militants from Boko Haram were blamed for the suicide bombings Sunday night at a crowded mosque and a posh Muslim restaurant in the central city of Jos; a suicide bombing earlier at an evangelical Christian church in Potiskum city, and attacks in several northeastern villages where dozens of churches and about 300 homes were torched.

President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the attacks on places of worship and said the government will defend Nigerians' right to worship freely.

It was the latest spasm of violence by Boko Haram extremists who have killed about 300 people in the past week apparently after an order by the self-proclaimed Islamic State group for more mayhem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Earlier this year, Boko Haram became an affiliate of the Islamic State group. The deadliest attack came on Wednesday when more than 140 people were killed — mostly men and boys mowed down by gunfire as they prayed in mosques in the northeastern town of Kukawa.

Burials were held Monday for 51 people killed by the two bombings a day earlier in the city of Jos, said Muslim community lawyer Ahmed Garba.

Another 67 people were wounded, according to Abdussalam Mohammed, the National Emergency Management Agency coordinator.

The explosion at the Yantaya Mosque came as cleric Sani Yahaya was addressing the worshippers, survivors said. Yahaya is the national chairman of the Jama'atu Izalatul Bidia organization, which preaches that all religions should peacefully coexist.

Garba said gunmen also opened fire on the mosque from three directions.

Survivor Danladi Sani said he saw a man dressed in white take aim at Yahaya, and then blow himself up. Yahaya was unharmed, Sani added. — AP
Ex-servicemen to intensify stir over OROP
Tribune News Service

new Delhi, July 6

Even as the Finance Ministry has returned the file on the 'one rank, one pension' for a final decision by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, ex-servicemen have threatened to intensify their ongoing agitation.

The Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM) has said it will wait till July 15 and then intensify their agitation in case the OROP is not implemented as per the accepted formula and principle.

The veterans are three weeks into their relay hunger strike at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Maj Gen Satbir Singh (retd) of the IESM said the intensified agitation, however, would be peaceful.

The ex-servicemen had met Parrikar on July 2 at his residence and told him about the anger in the ranks due to unkept promise of implementing the OROP. President Pranab Mukherjee, in his address to a joint sitting of Parliament in June last year, had said OROP was a commitment of the government.
Disparity in babus’ designation rocks Defence Ministry
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 6
A fresh controversy has cropped up in the defence establishment, this time over disparity in the designation of civilian bureaucrats of the Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service (AFHQCS) vis-à-vis IAS and defence officers.

The AFHQCS officers are placing themselves at designations above that of their counterparts having the same or even higher grade pay.

While this anomaly has been existing for some time, it was only recently that some defence officers noticed it and took up the matter with Army Headquarters for referring it to the Defence Ministry.

The AFHQCS officers of the level of Deputy Secretary to the Government of India in Pay Band-3 with Grade Pay (GP) of Rs 7,600 are placing themselves as ‘Directors’ in the Services Headquarters while senior military officers of the rank of Lieutenant Colonels, who are in Pay Band-4 with GP Rs 8,000, are being posted as ‘Joint Directors’.

Further, selection grade officers of the IAS and other Group A civil services as well as Army officers of the rank of Colonel, all with a GP of Rs 8,700, are posted as ‘Directors’ while the AFHQCS officers with a similar GP of Rs 8,700 are designating themselves as ‘Principal Director’ and ‘Deputy Director General’. Unlike the defence services and Group A civil services, the AFHQCS officers are promotees from Group B and Group C cadres.

Sources said that as per the system prevalent in all Central government departments, officers with the GP of Rs 7,600 are supposed to be designated as Joint Directors while officers with GP Rs 8,700 are to be appointed as Directors, but the AFHQCS officers have been citing unilateral instructions issued by the office of the Chief Administrative Officer-cum-Joint Secretary (Training), also an AFHQCS cadre officer, to place themselves on senior appointments.

In 2008, a Group of Ministers (GoM) then headed by Pranab Mukherjee had specifically created GP of Rs 8,000 in Pay Band-4 for Lt Cols to denote their position above Deputy Secretary level officers to remove the anomaly created by the 6th Pay Commission which had downgraded Lieutenant Colonels at par with Central deputy secretaries (directors in state government) while equating Colonels with directors of Central government (special secretaries in states). The pay equation of military and civil officers got disturbed after the 4th Pay Commission.
Mahindra unit ties up with UK firm for underwater warfare equipment
The companies have come together to build and supply advanced systems like the new torpedo defence system

Mumbai: After land and air defence, Mahindra is going to the sea.
Mahindra Defence Naval Systems Ltd, a unit of the $16.9 billion Mahindra Group on Monday said it has tied up with UK’s Ultra Electronics to build equipment for underwater warfare.
This follows Mahindra’s earlier defence production deals to serve the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force.
The company will bid for domestic and global opportunities, along with its partners in naval defence space, said S.P. Shukla, group president, aerospace and defence sector, Mahindra Group and chairman of Mahindra Defence Naval Systems.
“For the domestic opportunities, Mahindra Defence Naval would be ‘prime’ partner while overseas partners would be ‘prime’ for overseas bids. Mahindra Defence Naval is exploring several such tie-ups in naval defence space in the coming months,” Shukla said.
Mahindra and Ultra will jointly build torpedo defence, integrated anti-submarine warfare defence and equipment to counter mines, besides anti-submarine vessels, submarine safety equipment, sonobuoys and underwater ranges.
“Mahindra Defence Naval would be neutral in building naval warfare capabilities despite who is building the ships or submarines,” Shukla said.
He said the Indian Navy imports most of its underwater fighting equipment.
Mahindra hopes to step in with cutting-edge technology in this segment.
The partnership also addresses the defence forces’ need for specialized radios for tactical communication systems, the group said in a statement on Monday.
“We also expect to address the requirement of specialized radios and other defence electronics for all the three wings of the armed forces,” Shukla said.
Rakesh Sharma, chief executive officer at Ultra Electronics, said the partnership builds on his company’s existing collaboration with the Indian Army to provide radios.
A defence consultant, requesting anonymity, said Mahindra Group is fairly strong in land-related products and is creating capabilities in aerospace, too.
“The group is building naval capabilities by partnering with select overseas companies. It is expected to bid for all major naval warfare products,” he said.
On Friday, the defence division of the Mahindra Group, Mahindra Defence Systems Ltd, and Europe’s Airbus Helicopters signed an in-principle agreement to set up a joint venture to manufacture helicopters in India, seeking to tap a market expected to be worth $41 billion annually in seven years.
Several companies are keen to secure licences for defence production, following the opening of defence production to foreign investment and the government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative.
India’s soldiers still have to fight with clunky, outdated and unreliable r
One of the world’s largest tenders for assault rifles has been scrapped. And, as a result, one of the world’s largest armies must continue to wait for reliable weapons for its frontline troops.

Last month, after four years of deliberations, India’s defence ministry finally called off a project worth Rs4,850 crore ($765 million) to purchase 65,678 new assault rifles for the world’s third largest standing army. Assault rifles are weapons primarily used by the army’s infantry troops.

“I can confirm to you the information that the Indian Government has cancelled the tender,” Hana Smilkova, a spokesperson for Czech-rifle maker Ceska zbrojovka A.S, told Quartz via email. A defence ministry spokesperson did not respond to phone calls or messages from Quartz.

According to the 2011 tender, 65,678 assault rifles were to be procured from one of the five international companies that were invited for trials, with an option to make another 113,000 in India through technology transfers. American gunmaker Colt, Italy’s Beretta, Czech Republic’s Ceska, Israel Weapon Industries and SiG Sauer of Switzerland were the other companies selected for trials.

“The army remains without a critical and basic weapon system for the infantry, that forms the bulk of the fighting force,” James Hardy, Asia-Pacific editor for IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, told Quartz via email.

For long, the Indian Army has attempted to find a replacement for its 5.56mm indigenous INSAS (Indian small arms system) rifle,which is currently in use. India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) had started work on the INSAS rifles in the early 1980s based on some foreign weapon designs, including the Kalashnikov. The prototype was finally designed in 1986 and went into bulk production in 1994. These rifles were introduced as a replacement for the much heavier 7.62mm self-loading rifles.

But the INSAS rifles were also known to have defects, which became increasingly prominent after the Kargil war of 1999. In 2003, for instance, a major revamp of the rifle was carried out as it reportedly splashed oil on the faces of soldiers while firing, if excess oil was used to clean the weapon. In 2010, before the tender was issued, as many as 69 incidents or defects were reported.

“It is inefficient and unable to operate in cold and hot climates,” said Hardy. This is a problem given the frontline terrain where the Indian Army is deployed.

That’s why a new weapon for the Indian infantry is so critical, although the procurement process was not without its problems. The rifles, according to the tender, were to have interchangeable barrels that can fire both the 5.56 mm INSAS and the 7.62 mm AK-47 rounds, which isn’t a particularly popular configuration.

“The assault rifle project was flawed from the beginning,” Ajai Shukla, a defence expert and a former Colonel in the Indian Army, said. “The costs were high and no country in the world uses such kind of rifles. It should have been scrapped a long time ago.”

Earlier this year, India’s army chief General Dalbir Singh had listed assault rifles as one of the seven most critical requirements of his troops. But with this tender scrapped, the Indian Army must now wait for a few more years before getting its hands on a new, reliable rifle.

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