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Thursday, 12 November 2015

From Today's Papers - 12 Nov 2015

PM celebrates Diwali with soldiers, pays tribute to Hamid
Amritsar, November 11
For the second successive year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrated Diwali with soldiers on Wednesday, saying the world looks at India with respect because of their valour and “character”, in comments that come against the backdrop of protests by several veterans over the one rank, one pension (OROP) scheme.

He visited the Dograi War Memorial in Khasa in Amritsar and placed wreath at the venue of one of the toughest battles fought and won by Indian forces on September 22, 1965.

He also laid a wreath at the Asal Uttar Memorial near Valtoha on the Amritsar-Khem Karan road in Punjab and at the tomb of Company Quartermaster Havildar Abdul Hamid, a Param Vir Chakra recipient.

Modi noted that during the Asal Uttar battle in 1965, Hamid single handedly destroyed 3 enemy tanks and helped stop their offensive, in spite of being mortally wounded.

“Paying homage to CQMH Abdul Hamid. He was awarded the Param Vir Chakra posthumously for his gallantry,” Modi later tweeted.

Asal Uttar Memorial marks the Battle of Asal Uttar, which was one of the largest tank battles fought within the Indian territory in 1965.

“Our forces captured/destroyed over 90 enemy tanks by the end of the Battle of Asal Uttar...During this battle CQMH Abdul Hamid single handedly destroyed three enemy tanks & helped stop their offensive, inspite of being mortally wounded,” Modi said in his tweets.

Addressing the troops in Khasa, he said, “I have come to celebrate Diwali with you. I am happy to get this opportunity...”

Hailing the soldiers, the Prime Minister said, “It is because of your valour, dedication and dreams that the whole world looks at India with respect. It is not only because of the uniform but character of the armed forces.”

He said India holds its head high in the comity of nations because the generations of leaders in the armed forces nurtured the forces.

“I congratulate those who have provided leadership over several years to the armed forces,” Modi said.

His tributes to the “character” of armed forces come against the backdrop of protests by a section of ex-servicemen over the “dilution” of ‘one rank, one pension’. Several war veterans have returned their medals as part of their protest.

Later, he tweeted, “I spent time with our soldiers and we had a wonderful conversation.”

This is the second successive Diwali that Modi spent with troops since becoming the Prime Minister. Last year on Diwali, he had paid a surprise visit to Siachen, the highest battleground in the world, to spend time with the troops.

Earlier in the day, he tweeted, “Today on the auspicious occasion of Diwali, I am visiting the border areas to spend time with our Jawans.”

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister also paid a visit to the Barki Memorial in Ferozepur, which was constructed in 1969 to commemorate the soldiers of the 7 Infantry Division killed in 1965 India-Pakistan War.

The memorial has a pillar in the centre, a Patton tank and a Barki milestone on the south along with a water fountain at its north. The 27-foot-high pillar is built of red and white sandstone.

Modi in his address to the troops at Ferozepur, said, “Recently, in the defence sector, the country has made many important decisions.”

He said that experts in this sector would know how decisions are now quickly taken.

The Prime Minister further said, “Bharat ki koshish hai ki defence manufacturing yahaan ho. (It is India’s endeavour that defence manufacturing takes place here)”.
He said there is tradition to celebrate Diwali with one’s family and he treats them as his family, and had come to celebrate the festival of lights with them.

“I feel happy to celebrate the festival with you,” he said and told them that last year he had visited Siachen on Diwali.— PTI
Veterans return medals to protest OROP order
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 10
Despite the notification on the ‘one rank, one pension’ (OROP) scheme, ex-servicemen today continued their protest and returned their gallantry and other medals, accusing the government of cheating them.

This is not the first time veterans have returned their medals. They did the same during the tenure of the UPA. Veterans said they would observe a ‘Black Diwali’ to protest the Modi government’s failure to keep its promises.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today said the ex-servicemen protesting over the OROP notification were misguided and that they should approach a judicial commission being set up as part of the scheme to discuss the issue.

“It’s their democratic right (to protest), but I think they are misguided. If at all they have a grievance, they (ex-servicemen) should put it before the judicial commission we are appointing,” Parrikar said at the commissioning ceremony of ICGS Samarth at Goa Shipyard Limited in Panaji. Yesterday, Parrikar had ruled out any more concessions on OROP. Ex-servicemen returned their war and other medals at various places in Punjab and Haryana on Tuesday to register their protest against the “diluted” notification of the OROP.

There were reports of veterans returning their medals in Jalandhar, Amritsar, Patiala in Punjab and Panchkula, Rohtak, Hisar and Ambala in Haryana.
At Diwali With Troops, PM Modi Promises 'Foolproof' OROP
Amritsar/Ferozepur:  For the second successive year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today celebrated Diwali with troops, visiting military installations associated with the 1965 Indo-Pak war where he praised their "valour and character" and promised "foolproof" implementation of One Rank, One Pension for war veterans.

Against the backdrop of the continuing protests by several ex-servicemen over OROP, PM Modi said it was for the first time that the government, while notifying its decision to implement the scheme, had also set up a commission to ensure there are no shortcomings in the process.

"It is a foolproof arrangement," he said.

PM Modi paid surprise visits to three military installations close to the Indo-Pak border - the Dograi War Memorial in Khasa, Asal Uttar Memorial near Valtoha and Barki War Memorial in Ferozepur district, and interacted with the troops.

At the Dograi War Memorial in Khasa in Amritsar, he placed wreath at the venue of one of the toughest battles fought and won by Indian forces on September 22, 1965.

He also laid a wreath at the Asal Uttar Memorial near Valtoha on the Amritsar-Khem Karan road in Punjab and at the tomb of Company Quartermaster Havildar Abdul Hamid, a Param Vir Chakra recipient.

PM Modi said that during the Asal Uttar battle in 1965, Hamid single handedly destroyed three enemy tanks and helped stop their offensive, in spite of being mortally wounded.

Asal Uttar Memorial marks the Battle of Asal Uttar, which was one of the largest tank battles fought within Indian territory in 1965.

PM Modi also met soldiers at the Barki War Memorial, about 98 km from Khasa, which was constructed in 1969 to perpetuate the memory of soldiers of the 7 Infantry Division who made the supreme sacrifice on the battle field in 1965 war.
Ex-Servicemen Take Out March Against One Rank One Pension Notification
New Delhi:  Dissatisfied with the government's announcement on One Rank One Pension or OROP, military veterans are today observing what they call a 'Black Diwali'.

Escalating their protests, a group of veterans today launched a protest march in Delhi and tried to make their way to the President's House but were stopped by the police.

Despite the government hurrying over the weekend to issue a notification on their long held demand of pension reform armed forces veterans yesterday began returning medals they have been awarded in service of the country, protesting against what they call "the dilution of the definition of OROP".

"The fact that you are forming a parallel commission while issuing notification means they themselves agree that notification is flawed," Group Captain V K Gandhi said.

The veterans say they are unhappy with the OROP package announced by the government, which has said pensions will be equalised every five years.

The ex-servicemen want pensions to be equalised every year. Also, the OROP notification says soldiers who opt for pre-mature retirement or leave the forces without completing their full term, will not qualify for OROP. The veterans oppose this.

Not all ex-servicemen have, however, joined the latest protest. The Indian Ex Servicemen League - one of biggest and oldest bodies - will stay away.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has indicated that the government is in no mood to be pressured any longer. "In a democracy people can demand whatever they want, not everything can be met," he said yesterday.

On Sunday, in the final step to implement the scheme, the government notified OROP, which provides that armed personnel of the same rank will draw the same pension regardless of when they retired.

The announcement last week that the veterans would return medals was seen as a move to pressure the government into notifying OROP before Diwali as it had promised.
No lightweight bullet-proof jackets for Indian Army as political apathy, bureaucracy prevails
ndia's infantry lacks even lightweight modular bullet-proof jackets a decade after the demand was first made, according to a report in a news daily.

So what is the problem? Defence ministry sources on Tuesday told the daily said the procurement for 1,86,138 bullet-proof jackets through the 'capital procurement  route', which was approved by the defence acquisitions council in October 2009, is now on the verge of being scrapped.

These jackets were required to effectively protect the head, neck, chest, groin and sides of soldiers as well as allow them to move with greater agility during  counter-insurgency operations.

All these 1.86 lakh jackets, each costing around Rs 50,000, were to be provided by 2012. Another 1.67 lakh jackets were to be ordered in the second round. "But the  jackets offered by six vendors have not met the technical parameters or GSQRs (general staff qualitative requirements) laid down by the Army. DRDO laboratory DMSRDE (defence materials research & development establishment), too, has failed to deliver," said the source.

 The 'emergency revenue procurement' of 50,000 jackets, approved as an operational urgency by defence minister Manohar Parrikar however, has gone ahead. Tata Advanced Materials and MKU have been selected and asked to submit 'advance samples' for comprehensive ballistic tests. If they pass, then bulk orders of 25,000 each would be placed on the two firms. These jackets should cost around Rs 25,000 apiece.

But a fresh tender will have to be issued for the 1.86 lakh jackets.

The Indian Army wanted a modular jacket, whose weight could vary depending on the level of protection needed. The jacket was to weigh less than 4-kg for "low threat'' missions. For "high threat" missions, the jacket was to weigh up to 11.5 kg with hard armour plates.

The project was cleared in 2009, since the Army then had a shortage of 1.86 lakh jackets. Even the old and bulky jackets currently held by the Army, which offer inadequate protection, are now running out of their shelf-life, says the report.

The hindrances to modern jackets are many. Revision of technical parameters and re-floating of tenders as well as convoluted defence procurement procedures and political apathy and bureaucratic red tape have hindered several modernisation plans of the Army.
India in talks with US to procure Avenger drone
In order to bolster its capability against Pakistan and China, India is said to be engaged in serious talks with the US to acquire the hi-tech ‘Avenger’ armed drone and the matter is likely to be actively taken up by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar when he visits Washington in early December.

If the deal gets through, India would become the first nation outside the US to possess the armed drone, previously called the Predator C, widely read defence news portal, Arming India has reported.

Targeting terrorists and their camps inside a neighboring nation’s hostile territory is a military move New Delhi has been hesitating to take since the November 26, 2008 Mumbai attacks, but is now being increasingly talked about as a possibility after the cross-border strike by the Indian Army commandos to eliminate militants from India’s North-East, hiding deep inside Myanmar territory, in June.

India had initiated talks for acquiring the Avenger in September this year, during US deputy defence secretary Frank Kendall’s visit to New Delhi.

Similar requests had been made by India, through Indian and American diplomatic and military channels at least five times previously beginning March 2010, the letter stated, noting that all the while the US had pointed out to the export controls imposed on such technology and its sale by the Missile Technology Control Regime. It sought a quick untangling of the MTCR and American license control knots.

“General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. is aware of India’s interest in Predator-series remotely piloted aircraft,” the report quoted General Atomics’ chief executive for US and International Strategic Development Dr Vivek Lall as saying.

Avenger can fly at maximum altitudes of 50,000 feet for up to 18 hours and touch speeds of 400 knots through air speed (KTAS) or 460 miles an hour. Its significant payload capacity enables it to carry multiple sensors, while its internal weapons bay can house 3,500 pounds of precision munitions. In 2016, an extended range variant of Avenger will be available which will feature a 76-foot wingspan and increased fuel capacity that will increase the aircraft’s endurance to 20 hours.

Indian Army, Air Force and Navy currently have the Israeli Searcher-II and Heron ISR drones in their inventory, apart from Harop Kamikazi-style self-destructing combat drones in service. But the Predator-series provide ISR capability that is fully interoperable with the US forces and the US military platforms, in the Indian military’s aircraft inventory.

The Avenger would provide India with a definitively superior armed drone capability over Pakistan.

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