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Saturday, 7 November 2015

From Today's Papers - 07 Nov 2015

Parrikar: OROP to be notified_before Diwali
The official notification for the one rank, one pension (OROP) scheme will be issued before Diwali, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today said.

The announcement comes on a day when protesting ex-servicemen decided to step up their protests and return their medals across the country starting November 9. “As you are aware, it will be issued before Diwali,” Parrikar told reporters here in reply to a question when the official notification on the OROP will come out.

The government had on September 5 announced the OROP but an official notification was awaited. The government has cited the poll code for Bihar as the reason behind the delay. — PTI
Statue of Kargil hero unveiled
Tribune News Service

Bengaluru, November 6

The statue of Capt Neikezhakuo Kenguruse was today unveiled near the gate of the Army Service Corps Centre (South).

Kenguruse was an Angami Naga and sacrificed his life for India. He was given the Maha Vir Chakra.

He hailed from Nerhema village near Nagaland capital Kohima and died _at the age of 25. While moving through a terrain, he killed four enemies before being shot off the cliff.

“During Operation Vijay, Kengurese led the attack as a platoon commander. Despite suffering an injury in the abdomen, the officer climbed the stiff cliff and fired a rocket launcher on the enemy bunker, thus ensuring the achievement of the battalion mission,” a press release stated.

“When Kengurese’s body arrived in Dimapur, Nagaland, people in large numbers gathered to salute him,” RK Johnson, who teaches mass communication at St Joseph College, said.
Veterans to Return Medals Over Delay in One Rank One Pension
New Delhi:  Armed forces veterans, upset at the delay in the one rank one pension or OROP scheme being notified, have decided to return the medals they have been honoured with in the country's service.

The veterans said the decorated soldiers among them would hand over their medals on Tuesday and Wednesday next week at the arrival halls of the Delhi airport and at the offices of district collectors in other parts of the country.

Ex-servicemen abroad will return their medals at embassies, they said.

The government has promised the veterans that a notification to effect OROP will be issued as soon as the Bihar assembly election is over, pleading that a model code of conduct prohibits it from notifying new schemes during elections. Votes will be counted on Sunday, November 8.

The threat to return medals is aimed at pressuring the government to notify OROP on Monday, November 9. It is already under attack from a number of writers, filmmakers and others who have returned prestigious awards to protest against what they call "rising intolerance."

The government had, after negotiations that went on for months, announced on September 5 that it would implement OROP, which ensures that armed personnel of the same rank will draw the same pension regardless of when they retired.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had earlier said the government was trying to issue the notification before Diwali, which falls on November 11.

Veterans protesting in New Delhi said last week that they have no faith in Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar's promise. "The minister has changed the goalposts and hence the veterans have no faith in this statement," Major General Satbir Singh (retd), who has led the ex-servicemen's protests, said.

Some groups of veterans had also said that the provisions that the government has announced on OROP has shortcomings.
Pakistan is going to remain a problem for India: Senior army officer
The Western Army Commander went on to say that, “We have to prepare ourselves. Indian Army is prepared, Western Command is prepared. We spare no effort. We are always upto the challenge if it comes our way."
The General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, Lt Gen KJ Singh on Friday said that Pakistan is going to remain a problem for India. Speaking at a seminar organised by Western Command and Panjab University on the 1965 Indo-Pak war, he said that “despite our desire, despite our wish that Pakistan is a failed state, Pakistan will crumble, it is a country which is going to remain a problem for us”.

The Western Army Commander went on to say that, “We have to prepare ourselves. Indian Army is prepared, Western Command is prepared. We spare no effort. We are always upto the challenge if it comes our way.”

Referring to the repeated military engagements of Pakistan with India, Lt Gen KJ Singh recited a couplet composed from Pakistan’s perspective, saying “saintaalees mein, painsath mein aur Kargil main pittey hum, ikathar mein aur Siachen mein luttey hum, kuch to hai Pakistan ki fitrat mein, ki talkhiyan aur jahalat hoti nahi kam” (In 1947, 1965 and in Kargil we were beaten, we lost in 1971 and in Siachen, yet there is something in the nature of Pakistan that bitterness and ignorance is not getting reduced).

The Army Commander said that Pakistan is a country which is unique in the sense that it does not learn from its lessons. “It does something silly in ’47 with Razakars and which it repeats in ’65 and wants to do it again in Kargil, despite the famous saying that doing the same thing again and again and expecting results is the hallmark of being idiotic. Yet it is a country which we have to face,” he said.

Earlier, speaking about the positive effects of the 1965 war with Pakistan and on the Indian military preparedness Lt Gen KJ Singh said that it was genuinely a nation’s war in which even civilians came forth and took part wholeheartedly. He said, when Pakistan launched its best trained troops of Special Services Group (SSG) on raids in Halwara and Pathankot these ultimate elite troops of Pakistan were captured by the civilians in that area.

The Army Commanders said that the Indian riposte in 1965 also enabled the Army to give a firm reply to the Chinese in 1967 when an confrontation took place between Indian and Chinese troops in Nathu la and Yak La. “Not only did we not give ground but we also created a situation where the Chinese had to bring trucks to take away their dead bodies. We lost 100 odd boys but they lost 400. After 1962 and 1965 in 1967 we managed to tell the Chinese that we are no pushover. Now it is a different paradigm,” he said.

The seminar was held as part of a series held by the Western Command to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1965 war across its area of operations. It was attended by several serving and retired officers including the General Officer Commanding of Jalandhar-based 11 Corps, Lt Gen JS Cheema, former Defence Secretary, Shekhar Dutt and former Ambassador KC Singh.
What do historians do? A perfect lesson for Chetan Bhagat from the Indian Army
What inspires an Indian soldier to brave the odds in a battlefield? It is the history, the izzat, of his paltan.
So what do historians really do?

To Chetan Bhagat, a popular writer and a “five point someone”, the answer is not very obvious. He believes that they write this happened, then this happened and, ok, their work for the day is done. But this isn’t how others view the purpose of historians and history – for them it is history that defines the present, which creates traditions that define a nation and its fortunes. This is truer for the Indian Army.

Few people outside the military know what motivates the men of an infantry battalion of the Army to face impossible odds in battle. The soldiers call it izzat, the Urdu word for honour that motivates them to climb mountains under fire, in sub-zero temperatures where the exposed skin freezes and peels off.

History to live up to

It was the izzat of the paltan (battalion), stemming from a deep sense of history built over centuries, that had inspired Major Ranjit Singh Dyal and his men in the last few days of August 1965.

The men of the 1st battalion of the Parachute Regiment, tired and beaten, were on the verge of giving up the assault on the strategic Haji Pir pass. The pass, a critical link between Jammu with the Kashmir valley, and had given Pakistan a strategic edge over India since the 1947-48 war. As the clouds of war gathered over the subcontinent, Indian military planners hastened to capture Haji Pir to save Jammu.

The task fell on Maj Dyal, a gritty Sikh who was the second-in-command of the battalion. The battalion had lost officers and men, and Dyal, even though far senior in rank, took command of the companies that would make yet another assault to capture Haji Pir.

In the darkness of the night, Maj Dyal invoked the “paltan’s izzat” to his exhausted men. They had the battalion’s rich history to live up to: the antecedents of Maj Dayal’s 1 Para trace back over 200 years ago when the Punjab regiment was raised as a part of the Coast Sepoys of the Madras Presidency, under the East India Company. As the first battalion of the then Punjab Regiment, it was chosen to convert to a Parachute role, making 1 Para the Indian Army’s oldest battalion.

With the “paltan’s izzat” at heart, Maj Dyal and his men assaulted the Pakistani army on the Haji Pir pass for a third time, leading to a major victory. Once on top of the pass, they held on despite several ferocious counterattacks by the Pakistanis.

Since then the battalion has never looked back and in 1980 it was converted once again into an elite Special Forces unit.

Memories of battles

Without history, the Indian Army would be rudderless and risk losing its identity. So, when Chetan Bhagat questions the role of historians, it threatens a march towards the burning of books that the Nazis indulged in, as they sought to first delegitimise and then rewrite history.

The Regimental histories of the Indian Army’s fighting formations have always held it in good stead. The 1st battalion of the Sikh Regiment carefully maintains a rare Chinese vase in its records, a remembrance of a bygone era when the battalion travelled to China to fight British India’s wars. The Marathas are the only Regiment in the Indian Army that invokes the memory of a mortal (Chhatrapati Shivaji), not the gods, before a battle. For military historians, it is this legacy and its attendant narrative that makes the difference between victory and defeat.

For the proud Sikhs, the battle of Saragarhi in North West Frontier Province on September 12, 1897, is a valuable memory that inspires them till this day. That day, Havildar Ishar Singh led 22 of his Sikh compatriots to hold out against 10,000 Afridi and Orakazai tribesmen as they swarmed into their outpost. The 22 men held on for days till their ammunition ran out. Finally, they fought with bare hands before succumbing to overwhelming numbers. Till this day, Sikh Battalions invoke the rich history of their predecessors to inspire and lead their men into battle.

Ability to correct course

The army is filled with such tales from the past. Even today, the officers and men of the 3rd battalion of the Jat Regiment recall the battle of Dograi, where 86 men died as they took on a Pakistani force twice their size.

On the night of September 21, 1965, the battalion, led by its Anglo-Indian commanding officer Lt. Col. Desmond Hayde, charged into the Pakistani village of Dograi though it was guarded by a Pakistani infantry battalion and a tank regiment. The night before, Lt. Col. Hayde had told his men in anglicised Haryanvi, “Susre, Zinda Ya Murda, Dograi Mein Milna Hai (Dead or alive, we have to meet in Dograi).” Such was his leadership that the Jats won Dograi, vacated it and then attacked in again to re-take it – a rare feat in the annals of the Indian Army.

These are the histories that continue to send men into battalion to build new histories for their subsequent generations.

When Chetan Bhagat questions historians, he is also questioning their narrative, which gives a nation its purpose and the ability to correct course when mistakes from the past return to haunt its future.

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