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Saturday, 22 August 2015

From Today's Papers - 22 Aug 2015

Ramdev’s firm to manufacture, sell DRDO’s products
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 21
Yoga guru Ramdev will manufacture and market some of the herbal supplements and food products developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

An agreement for transfer of technology is scheduled to be signed by DRDO’s Leh based-laboratory, Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR), and Patanjali Yogpeeth, an institute founded by Ramdev for the promotion and practice of yoga and ayurveda on August 23.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, DRDO Director General Dr S Christopher, DIHAR Director Dr Bhuvnesh Kumar and Ramdev along with some of his associates are expected to be present at Leh for the signing of the agreement.

The move will enable DRDO products to expand their consumer base beyond the armed forces. Under the terms of the ToT, the scientific know-how for manufacture of five products developed by DIHAR will be handed over to Patanjali Yogpeeth.

These include herbal tea, seabuckthorn dietary supplements capsules, seabuckthorn juice and sepricot beverage, which is made from seabuckthorn and apricot, sources in DRDO headquarters said. DIHAR is engaged in developing cold arid agro-animal technologies aimed at enhancing vegetable cultivation; exploitation of high-altitude plant wealth for herbal products; collection, evaluation and permafrost-based conservation of elite germplasm; freeze preservation of vegetables and post-harvest technology of perishable food items; sustainable utilisation of biodegradable waste for energy production; high altitude physiology and cross breeding of animals to increase their potential.

Patanjali already manufactures a wide range of herbal products and food products with an annual turnover of Rs 2,000 crore.
Delhi draws line, NSA talks in limbo
Adamant Pak calls Hurriyat leaders genuine stakeholders in Kashmir dispute
KV Prasad

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 21
India on Friday rejected unilateral imposition of conditions by Pakistan insisting on holding talks with Hurriyat leadership, leaving a big question mark on the fate of the scheduled August 23-24 bilateral National Security Advisers-level talks.

On a day of swift counters, India saw the condition as a departure from the understanding reached at Ufa that agreed the NSAs would discuss all issues connected to terrorism, an agenda set for them by Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif.

"India remains committed to discussing issues with Pakistan peacefully and bilaterally. In fact, we took the initiative to engage at Ufa. But, unilateral imposition of new conditions and distortion of the agreed agenda cannot be the basis for going forward," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

Later in the evening, Pakistan Foreign Office expressed "deep disappointment" over it stating that Islamabad did not place any condition for the talks. It accused India of falling back while justifying discussions with the Hurriyat leaders who it said were "genuine stakeholders in finding efforts to find a lasting solution to the Kashmir dispute".

New Delhi also sought to subtly underscore that the civilian leadership in Pakistan was being subjected to dictates of the military leadership there, stating: "People of both countries can legitimately ask today: What is the force that compels Pakistan to disregard the agreements reached by two elected leaders and sabotage their implementation.”

The statement led to interpretation whether India, yet again, walked away from official-level engagement with Pakistan, but the thought process in the South Block is to force Islamabad take a final call instead of New Delhi making the first move.

India also sought to apportion the blame on to Pakistan saying there had been a pattern to Pakistan's action after the Ufa summit and “today's position is a culmination of that approach”.

The talks between NSA Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz is scheduled for August 23-24 and the invitation from Islamabad to separatist Kashmiri leaders for a meeting set off a chain of events. A similar move last year in August resulted in New Delhi cancelling the Foreign Secretary-level talks and it took the Ufa summit to promise restarting the stalled process of dialogue.

At Ufa, the two Prime Ministers agreed on a meeting of the NSAs to discuss all issues connected to terrorism as well as ensure peace and tranquility on the border. "Instead, we saw a sharp increase in the unprovoked firings from the Pakistani side and some serious cross-border terrorist incidents. The last one, at Udhampur, resulted in the capture of a Pakistan national, a matter that would have naturally come up in the NSA-level talks on terrorism, to Pakistan's discomfort,” the spokesperson said.

Insofar as the talks are concerned, Pakistan took 22 days to respond to the Indian proposal to meet in New Delhi. It then proposed an agenda that was at complete variance with what the two Prime Ministers had agreed upon in Ufa, the spokesperson said.

"Together, these two actions indicated its reluctance to go forward with sincerity on the agreed process. Even more significantly, without confirming either the programme or the agenda, the Pakistan High Commissioner invited Hurriyat representatives to consult with the visiting NSA. This provocative action was completely in consonance with Pakistan's desire to evade its commitment at Ufa to engage in a substantive discussion on terrorism," Swarup said.

The Ufa understanding on the talks — read out jointly by the two Foreign Secretaries — was very clear: the NSAs were to meet to discuss all issues connected to terrorism. This was the only agenda set for them by the two Prime Ministers.

The insistence on meeting Hurriyat as a precondition is also a complete departure from the Ufa understanding. India has always held the position that there are only two stake holders in our relationship, not three.

Resume talks: UN chief  

As the proposed talks between the NSAs of India and Pakistan appeared deadlocked, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday called on the two sides "to return to dialogue" in the interest of their people and exercise maximum restraint.

Will go by agreement on terror talks: Rajnath

We are firm on our stand that whatever talks that take place with Pakistan should only and only be on terrorism... We stick to commitment between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Ufa to engage in a substantive discussion on terrorism. — Rajnath Singh, Home Minister
Indian Army stages flag march in Samba after clashes leave 14 injur

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JAMMU: Army staged a flag march after 14 people, including 10 police personnel, were injured as locals protesting an alleged sacrilegious act in Samba district pelted stones on police and indulged in arson late last night.

Curfew was imposed last night after the violence broke out following which the police used batons and teargas to control the situation.

"Army has staged a flag march to restore peace after violent clashes broke out after a sacrilegious act in Samba district l ..

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J&K: Indian Army's Delta Force busts militant hideout, recovers huge munitions
Indian army today got a major success against  the militants when a joint team of Delta Force and J&Kpolice busted a militant hideout in Laskarwan Forest of Ramban District. The army recovered a huge cache of arms and ammunition which were to be used against the defence forces in the state.

The haul includes  a huge cache of arms and ammunition including a sniper rifle, one universal machine gun and 13-kg explosive.

 The  joint search operation was launched after the security forces had  specific information about the presence of a militant hideout in Laskarwan forest according to defence personnel.

 The troops recovered arms, ammunition and explosive material including one 7.62-mm sniper rifle, universal machine gun, one under-barrel grenade launcher, hand grenade, three sniper magazines, 42 rounds of sniper ammunition, three bombs, one radio set, 13-kg explosive, one blanket, three leather shoes and a rucksack, the officer said.

Laskarwan forest lies in the foothills of Riliyar Ridge, and continuous domination of the area was being undertaken by the troops of Rashtriya Rifles.,/But/No/High/Altitude/Gear,/Shoes,/Durries/For/Soldiers/Either
No OROP, But No High Altitude Gear, Shoes, Durries For Soldiers Either
NEW DELHI: Despite its braggadocio and assurances of ‘ache din’, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP government has failed to deliver even basic gear like high altitude clothing, canvas shoes, mosquito nets, balaclavas and durries to Indian Army jawans.

The Parliamentary Defence Committee, which presented its report to parliament on August 13, savaged the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for failing to provide jawans 217,388 high ankle boots, 130, 092 canvas running shoes and 447,000 balaclavas.

Additional basic equipment deficits in the 1.2 million strong army include 126,270 mosquito nets and 65,978 durries used for sleeping.

Another glaring shortfall is that of 231,141 bulletproof jackets, pending for over six years.

“The Committee recommends that the MoD emerge from its slumber and make the procurement of bulletproof jackets to make up shortages, so as to save lives of thousands of soldiers” the 30-member committee stated in its 67-page report.

The Committee depressingly reiterates enduring shortages, not only of essential kit for jawans, which the BJP administration had promised to make good within its first few months in office, but also of varied weapon systems.

These include howitzers, assault rifles, operationally efficient tanks, assorted missiles and vehicles to carry them, night vision devices and miscellaneous weapon sights.

Committee MP’s expressed concern over the MoD cutting the army’s capital modernisation budget by Rs 15,402.55 crore for FY 2014-15, thwarting all new projects, as the bulk of the financial outlay would be consumed by previously committed liabilities.

This would leave money for little else, for an army whose war waging capability is handicapped by equipment shortages, obsolete hardware and restricted, almost laughable, night-fighting capability. And this is an army that claims it is capable of fighting a two-front war against nuclear rivals Pakistan and China

“The Committee fully understands that (a) capable, motivated and dedicated force cannot move and fight without fuel in its vehicles and fire in its weapons” the report emphasised.

It also recommended that the MoD allocate the army adequate funds to keep its fighting sprits high and the capability to move in any eventuality.

The Committee report merely restates the army’s persistent shortages, including fundamental kit like boots and clothing, which have continued for so long, that they seem almost permanent, unlikely to be made good.

Soldiers admit to equipping themselves by procuring basic gear, especially shoes and warm clothing from the open market with their own money.

Even some of the kit that is supplied to them by Ordnance Factory Board units is of questionable quality and, in most instances, unfit to be used.

Unit langar’s in cantonments around the country abound with complaints centered round sub-standard Government Issue goods provided them and the amounts they have to spend to adequately equip themselves.

Ambitious plans to transform the army from a threat-based force to a capability-based Service by 2020, capable of conducting the entire spectrum of conflict from nuclear war to counter-insurgency operations, continue to be deferred.

A combination of the MoD’s hidebound bureaucracy and an equally lugubrious and inefficient Army headquarters, slow to draw up realistic qualitative requirements (QRs) for varied equipment it badly needs, has contributed to this seemingly intractable impasse.

An earlier 2012 Parliamentary Defence Committee report revealed that as many as 41 of the army’s tenders for diverse equipment, were withdrawn or terminated due to faulty or over ambitious QR’s.

“The arm’s efforts at modernising its combat arms like armoured regiments and the infantry and support arms like the artillery, aviation, air defence, signals and engineering corps were all in shambles, plagued by a lack of timely planning and resource management" former Major General Sheru Thapliyal said.

It needs to seriously kick-start its modernisation plans in order to survive in an increasingly militarised neighbourhood, he stated adding that for that it needed competent leadership.
Fifth Columnist: Playing with fire

By Ranjit Bhushan      Aug 21 2015
Tags: Opinion
India would do well to resolve the OROP issue, as it concerns a matter of honour for the defence forces
In the words of Napoleon Bonaparte, later ascribed to several other leading statesmen and military leaders of 19th and 20th century Europe, “the army moves on its stomach”. In other words, a successful army is one that is well provisioned and well fed, and presumably, well paid.

If that yardstick is applied to the current goings on in India on the one-rank-one-pension (OROP) scheme, where defence services veterans who have given it all in a country not known to be particularly military-minded, are roughed up on the streets of Delhi by the police for demanding implementation of a plan approved by Parliament and assured by successive governments, a dangerous threshold has been crossed. The situation is grim enough for the former soldiers, many of them veterans of rugged campaigns in wars and proxy wars, to threaten to burn their hard-earned medals – a military man’s ultimate badge of honour.

The OROP is a classical example of the famed powers of the Indian bureaucracy to checkmate any proposal, no matter how strong the political will behind the decision. At stake is an odd Rs 7,500-Rs 10,000 crore or so to be paid to all ranks of the 13-lakh strong defence forces, which includes soldiers cutting across the army, air force and navy; pension to be paid according to the last rank held. It is a practice not different from what exists in the civilian bureaucracy. Despite the best efforts of ruling party politicians to push through this most basic of demand, the decision continues to be confined to files, which are currently doing the rounds of several desks of the ministry of defence. Here the Narendra Modi government has the additional cross to hold, his party claiming to be the harbinger of nationalism and the most worthy advocates of the defence forces. The veterans want a date on which the OROP announcement would be made; sadly that date is not forthcoming.

Surely, the point which is being made is this: if the prime minister thinks nothing of announcing a Rs 1.25 lakh crore as special package for poll-bound Bihar, surely there should be no problems in generating much less largesse as pension payment for the defence services. The prime minister, justifiably, has been announcing money for development schemes in various parts of the country running into thousands of crores. Why, then, keep the forces out of the loop? Minister of state for finance Jayant Sinha recently informed Parliament that bad loans or nonperforming assets (NPAs) (read write offs) at public sector banks have increased to Rs 2.67 lakh crore at the end of March 2015. What’s a measly Rs 10,000 odd crores in comparison? Surely, if the industrialists have a stake in the country, so do defence veterans.

Muddying the already muddy waters was a decision taken by the UPA government, which perhaps, justifiably proposed that apart from the defence forces, the country’s nine-lakh strong paramilitary police too needed the OROP scheme. In a representation to the seventh pay commission, paramilitary forces have demanded OROP saying they are the first line of defence on India’s fragile international borders, in conditions that are as tough, if not tougher than the army. In other words, an additional couple of hundred thousand crores need to be coughed up if paramilitary demands are to be met.

There are two issues here. One, there can be no comparison between the two cases. The minister of state for defence Rao Inderjit Singh, while ruling out OROP for paramilitary forces, said while an army jawan retires at 35-40, his BSF, CRPF or CISF contemporary superannuates at 60. Hence, he has the advantage of years.

Two, there is a flip side to this argument. Promotions in paramilitary forces are practically non-existent. A vast majority of the central forces join and retire as deputy commandants. Only a handful of them go to the next level of a commandant. Frustration, as a result, is mounting in the para-military forces, with no avenues of going up the professional ladder. Unlike the army, the paramilitary forces do internal duty inside the country as well, often in very trying circumstances with many casualties every year in line of duty.

It would be the ultimate travesty of justice if one or both the cases remain unresolved on account of each other. In a $2 trillion economy, the money needed for providing for those who have to lay down their lives in line of duty, is miniscule.

It would also be instructive to remember that in the 19th century, the British Indian army was raised and nurtured successfully on the notion of izzat (honour). The modern Indian defence forces are the successors of that hoary tradition. Sadly, while India’s colonial masters realised, and indeed worked hard on the notion of honour to raise a voluntary force, Indians themselves have shown little appetite for such niceties.

Down the centuries, India was fair game for all manner of conquerors or hordes, essentially because there was no national army. For bureaucrats sitting in the confines of their South Block and North Blocks comforts, it would make sense not to overlook this basic simple fact.

PS: As a striking contrast, a Pakistani major general at retirement can expect to get 240 acres of prime farmland in the country.

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