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Friday, 9 October 2015

From Today's Papers - 09 Oct 2015

Combat plan: IAF wants to see women fly fighter jets
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 8
In a first for the Indian armed forces, IAF is planning combat role for women by inducting them as fighter aircraft pilots.

Speaking at the Air Force Parade at the Hindon air base on the 83rd anniversary of the Air Force, IAF Chief Arup Raha said: “We have women pilots flying transport aircraft and helicopters. We are now planning to induct them into the fighter stream to meet the aspirations of young women of India”.

The IAF Chief had first spoken about the issue at the passing out parade of the Army’s Officer Training Academy at Gaya in December last year. “They (women) are already working in all branches of the Air Force and they could be appointed as fighter pilots too in future,” he had said in Gaya.

Later in the evening, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said he has convened a meeting of the three Service Chiefs on the issue of having women in combat roles to make forces gender neutral. Women in several other countries, including Pakistan, have been drafted to fly fighter jets, which usually fly at Mach-1, or the speed of sound. The jets carry missiles and bombs and are the first targets of enemy air defence guns and missiles fired from ground.

The Indian Air Force, Navy and the Army allow women officers to get permanent commission in select streams, but women are not allowed in combat duties like fighter jets, Naval warships or Army’s infantry, armoured and artillery regiments.

The Navy also has women pilots but all are in non-combat duties

Sources said women, like their men counterparts, will undergo the same level of training that will have years of flying on two different types of training jets.

Speaking about the changes, the Indian Air Force chief said by next year the operational capability of the

IAF would be enhanced. “The mid-life upgrade project of the MIG-29, Mirage 2000 and the Jaguar along with the induction of LCA by next year will further enhance  operational capability”.

He said the focus would be to upgrade operational infrastructure in north and north east. “Modern facilities are being created for the Sukhhoi-30 MKI, C-17 and C-130 J fleet’s and the Akash Missiles System”.
How Nepal was ‘lost’
An exquisite foreign policy disaster in Kathmandu
THESE days, one can’t swing a dead cat in New Delhi without hitting a professionally wise person who can be relied upon to rapturously proclaim how Narendra Modi has “won” and “conquered” the West. But one is hard-pressed to find anyone who can explain how Nepal was “lost” on the Prime Minister’s watch. Nor will anyone be able to recall when it was last that Nepal chose to take its grievance against India to the United Nations. The correct answer: 1989.

It is the most glaring foreign policy disaster since May, 2014. But we are pretending that it is all the Nepalese’ fault, and their loss, their funeral. We are confident of knocking the snot out of those snotty “upper-caste, Hill elite” who have, once again, colonised the Kathmandu power structure.

Let us revisit the optics. The Foreign Secretary is rushed to Kathmandu as the Prime Minister's envoy and he carries with him a demarche. Leaders of three principal political parties —  the Nepali Congress (NC), the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) and the United Communist Party of Nepal — are given the peremptory message: do not complete your almost complete constitution-making exercise. Why? Because we think the proposed constitutional document is flawed. It is anchored in majoritarianism. We do not approve of it. We have at least six major suggestions as amendments. The Prime Minister's envoy is heard politely. A few days later, the new Nepali Constitution is signed and promulgated. We sulkily “note” the new constitutional milestone. And then, proceed to wink at what the Nepalese call an economic blockade. A country that was so warm and open-hearted in welcoming the Prime Minister just six months ago is now hash-tagging at BackoffIndia.

We feel righteously offended. How can these mainstream political parties forget all our hand-holding, nudging and hugging of all these years? How can they now gang up against New Delhi? In our new age of faux-machismo, we ask how dare the Nepalese ignore our preference. We are the new regional power. We have no doubts, and we are not afraid to use our clout. After all, we have been given the sheriff’s badge by none other than the sole superpower.

But snubbed we were. And, gloriously so. There is no other way to put it. And, perhaps it is just as well that this exquisite foreign policy disaster has come early enough. It throws light on the new warpedness that has come to define the policymaking process in New Delhi.

Unfortunately, the Nepal mess is one setback that cannot be laid at the door of the “duplicitous Pakistanis” or the “devious Chinese.” This is a disaster entirely of our own making. It is self-inflicted.

Let us look at the mess-makers. We have a very competent and experienced diplomat manning our embassy in Kathmandu. He is well versed with the nuances of the political power games that were in play throughout the constitution-making exercise. As a consummate professional, he must have been keeping New Delhi in the loop.

Then, we have our “agencies” that have a reputation of having a ubiquitous presence in the Himalayan state. They are known to exercise considerable influence and power, both formal and informal, in Nepal's ever-changing domestic alignments and relentless intrigues. Their input must have been available to the big bosses in South Block.

And, in the Ministry of External Affairs, we have a vast body of professional diplomats with  considerable institutional memory and competence. They can be presumed to have remained watchful about the developments in Nepal.

We are also fortunate to have a hands-on National Security Adviser, who is capable of multi-tasking and micro-managing, from crowd-control at Yakub Memon’s funeral to a hot pursuit of insurgents in Myanmar. The services and advice of a couple of very able foreign service officers in the PMO are also available to the NSA.

And, on top of that, we have a web of extensive engagements between our political crowd and the Nepali lot. And most importantly, we have the RSS-VHP and assorted Hindu groups who have always made it their business to keep taps on what till recently was “the only Hindu kingdom” in the world. Some even suggest that the foreign missions in New Delhi have come to regard RSS’ commissar Ram Madhav as the shadow foreign minister.

All these assets and talents collectively give us a formidable edge over the other global players in Nepal. It is our backyard, we know the pitch and we know the ground and we have a fix on the crowd. Yet, we ended up taking our eye off the ball.

Since this is a government that takes considerable pride in its clarity and its cogency, it must be presumed that New Delhi knew exactly what kind of constitutional compact for Nepal would meet “our legitimate concerns.” Yet, it failed to make itself heard or felt. That, too, in our very backyard.

Nepal's constitution-making exercise was an open affair. And, we should have had a fairly good inkling of how the traditional “upper caste, Hill elite” were trying to steer the power-sharing arrangement.

It was the perfect setting for a competent exercise of soft power. There is no dearth of legal talent and constitutional knowledge in India. Indian parliamentary officialdom’s core competence could have been easily deployed to influence the course of constitutional choices. Yet, none of this happened. The Sherlock Holmesian dog did not bark.

Could it be that the sprawling foreign office bureaucracy is busy scheduling yoga classes rather than using its traditional tools of tradecraft to secure our core interests? Serious students of Indian foreign policy are getting concerned that the stylistic upheavals — all Modi personality centric — have left the average IFS mandarin disoriented, breathless and befuddled. It has not helped Indian diplomacy that the External Affairs Minister is perceived to not carry any weight.

Could it be that the PMO has acquired such a lock on wisdom, initiative and preferences as to render dysfunctional the rest of the sprawling national security establishment? The Nepal fiasco is a lesson in the dangers of over-centralisation.

Could it be that New Delhi would have acted with finesse and subtlety had there not been a Bihar electoral calendar? The ham-handedness displayed towards Kathmandu can only be explained in the context of the struggle for the Patna gaddi. Petty and short-term electoral calculations were allowed to overshadow competent diplomacy. All our neighbours have noted that give New Delhi the slightest upper hand or leverage and it will breathe down heavily on them. Well, there goes the neighbourhood.
India, China review steps to avoid standoffs
Beijing, October 8
Indian and Chinese officials have held talks here to review measures to avoid standoffs between their troops along the disputed border amid allegations by the PLA that removal of a surveillance hut by Indian soldiers last month was a violation of consensus to maintain peace.

The Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) consisting of officials from the foreign ministries and militaries of both countries met recently to review its functioning.

The mechanism has become a crucial avenue since 2013 for both sides to address tension arising from stand offs between the two militaries patrolling the areas claimed by both sides.

While Indian officials declined to comment on the talks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing here today “we hope that through these consultations we can work out how to better safeguard the peace in the border areas and implement the consensus reached by our leaders”. — PTI
See Pak’s track record before N-deal: India
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 8
The government today reacted sharply to reports of the US mulling a nuclear deal with Pakistan on the lines of one with India by asking Washington and other countries to first look at Islamabad's proliferation track record before signing a deal.

External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said: "We have seen these reports and it is not for the first time this issue has surfaced. Whosoever is examining that particular dossier should be well aware of Pakistan's track record in the area of proliferation. And when India got this particular deal it was on the basis of our own impeccable non-proliferation track record".
OROP: Army plans special day for veterans
The Army headquarters has identified January 2016 as the month for launching these initiatives. This coincides with the Army Day celebrations, which will take place January 6-15.
As the protests by military veterans over their demand for “One Rank, One Pension” (OROP) continue, the Army is planning a slew of measures to honour and engage the ex-servicemen community. These include establishment of a new Directorate of Army Veterans, launching a veterans magazine and institutionalising a “veterans day”.

The Army headquarters has identified January 2016 as the month for launching these initiatives. This coincides with the Army Day celebrations, which will take place January 6-15. The celebrations will include debate, quiz and painting competitions, besides a band concert at the Amar Jawan Jyoti, an Army Raahgiri Day at Delhi’s Connaught Place and a two-day Army seminar. The celebrations will culminate in the traditional wreath-laying at India Gate and an Army Day parade at Delhi Cantt.
Army Day is celebrated on January 15 every year to mark the ascension of the first Indian officer, Lt General (later Field Marshal) KM Cariappa, as the Commander-in -Chief of independent India.

As part of these 10-day celebrations, the Army has mooted plans to celebrate January 14, 2016, as Veterans Day or the Army Veterans Remembrance Day. It will also launch a veterans magazine and inaugurate the Directorate of Army Veterans the same day. The Directorate of Army Veterans will be established in the Army headquarters, and will be the first such organisation among the three defence services. These issues will form part of the deliberations during the Army commanders’ conference scheduled to be held October 12-16.

The “revision of policy related to pensions and pensioners grievances” is also on the agenda of the meeting. Sponsored by the Army’s Adjutant General’s branch, the discussion is expected to cover all the issues related to OROP.
Kalyani Group building ‘protected vehicles’ for Army
 Pune, October 8: 

In a major move from being a supplier of components and aggregates to large auto OEMs through its flagship forgings company Bharat Forge, the Pune-based Kalyani Group has thrown its hat into the automotive manufacture ring.

Group company Kalyani Strategic Systems is busy building prototypes of three ‘protected vehicles’ for the Indian Army, competing with well established players such as Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) and Ashok Leyland who are also in the fray.

These were the companies that around a couple of months ago received the request for proposal (RFP) for the development of a light strike vehicle that will be used as an advanced recci vehicle for special forces, a light (bullet proof) specialist vehicle (LSV), as well as a light armoured multi-role vehicle (LAMV).

“We are participating in all these three programmes,” says Col Rajinder Bhatia, Chief of KSSL and CEO, defence and aerospace for Bharat Forge.Responding to a query on the subject, a spokesperson for Tata Motors said, “Tata Motors is currently working towards two RFPs – the LSV for 1,300 units and the LAMV for 702 units. Both vehicles are currently under development in Pune and will be ready for trials in 2016”

After the field trails are successful, bids will be called for and the company with the most competitive bid will bag the order.

Another area in which the Kalyani group is taking on OEMs is for what is called the ‘mother of all vehicle programmes’ — a futuristic infantry combat vehicle (FICV) for the Indian Army – with a deal size at nearly ₹1 lakh crore. Elaborating on M&M foray into this space, SP Shukla, Group President, Mahindra Aerospace and Defence, said, “The Mahindra Defence Land Systems unit of Mahindra Defence is participating in three major programmes – the LAMV, the armoured LSV and the FICV.”

In addition, Mahindra has developed, built and marketed the mine protected vehicle (MPV) both in India and abroad and has over 75 per cent market share in armoured vehicles in India, he added.
'Join the Indian Army and Live a Life Less Ordinary' campaign to be launched tomorrow

NEW DELHI: Indian Army's new recruitment campaign, titled 'Join the Indian Army and Live a Life Less Ordinary' will be launched across the country tomorrow.

The campaign projects Indian Army as a full-fledged working organization that offers exciting career in different sectors for young Indians who otherwise aspire for other careers.

According to Lt Gen RN Nair, Director General Recruiting, "No other organisation in India provides the canvas of engineering, technology, wo ..

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