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Friday, 1 April 2016

From Today's Papers - 01 Apr 2016

Pak takes ‘spy’ issue to EU, other world powers
Islamabad, March 31
Pakistan today said it had informed the European Union and major world capitals about the arrest of an Indian “spy” from restive Balochistan province and asked Iran to provide details of his “spy network”.

Kulbhushan Yadav, alleged chief operative of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), was arrested by Pakistani security agencies from Chaman, near Quetta, last week.

Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said major world capitals and EU had been informed about the arrest of a serving Indian Navy officer for planning “subversive activities” in Pakistan.

The entire world has seen the admission statement of the Indian agent, Zakaria said, referring to the so-called “confessional video” of Yadav released earlier this week by the Pakistan army.

Zakaria said Pakistan had earlier provided the United Nations with evidence of Indian interference and terror activities in Pakistan.

India has acknowledged Yadav as a retired Indian Navy officer, but denied the allegation that he was in any way connected to the government.

“The said individual has no link with the government since his premature retirement from the Navy,” said a statement issued by India’s Ministry of External Affairs, while demanding counsellor access to him. — PTI
MOD panel frowns on increase in awarding maintenance allowance to wives in military
The panel, in its report, has criticised the defence services for passing such orders in, essentially, what are private matrimonial disputes.
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A panel of experts of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has slammed the defence services for passing orders granting maintenance allowance to wives of military personnel from their salaries, especially in Army, without due investigation and scrutiny.

The panel, in its report, has criticised the defence services for passing such orders in, essentially, what are private matrimonial disputes. The Army, Navy and the Air Force Acts provide that the competent authority can impose a cut upto 33 per cent on pay and allowances which can be paid to the wife as maintenance on her application. With growing matrimonial disputes, the number of such applications has increased in the last few years especially with the Army granting maintenance to the spouses on almost all applications through non-speaking orders without providing reasons.
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An expert committee constituted by the Defence Minister on litigation has however observed that the exceptional provisions are being invoked in a routine manner by defence authorities. It has also found that the system does not have the wherewithal or ability to examine the veracity or truthfulness of the allegations and counter-allegations of both parties which is basically a matter of evidence that can only be weighed and dealt with by civil courts under law legislated for this specific purpose. The panel has said that this exercise can only be carried out under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code and the relevant Marriage Acts, rather than the defence services getting into what may fundamentally be a civil or private dispute between a husband and his wife.

The panel has also observed that even the Army HQ has expressed concern on the issue and that maintenance is meant to tide over a difficult financial situation and not to lead life on someone else’s expense. It has recorded that the award of maintenance results in grave civil consequences for an individual wherein a cut is imposed on his pay and should be taken as a serious matter and not routine. Moreover, it may not be initiated on the fact whether the spouse is working or not but whether she has the capacity to work or not, further adding that a situation cannot be allowed to prevail wherein an otherwise qualified/educated spouse stops working or refuses to take up a job in order to claim maintenance.

The Panel has stated that though defence personnel have a bounden duty to maintain their families, such issues should be left to Courts to decide based on evidence. Surprised at the acceptance of an unusually high number of applications by the Army, the committee has questioned, “does it mean that it was found that out of the total applications received, such a high percentage of officers were found wanting in their familial and marital obligations? If yes, then what were the tools available to reach that conclusion?”

There has been a rise of litigation on the subject in the past. Recently, a Lt Col had averred that his wife held a Doctorate and also working in a real estate firm but still was awarded maintenance by the Army. Another officer had stated that his wife had a degree of MSc as well as BEd and was earning a huge amount from tuitions and he had elderly parents to look after but still deduction of arrears of maintenance had resulted in disbursement of more than Rs 30,000 to the wife per month while he was being disbursed a amount of just Rs 6000. Another serving Colonel had stated that was being expected put his earnings at the disposal of his wife who was fully qualified and competent to work and was actually working.
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Indian Army soldiers to get bullet-proof jackets after a decade
After a decade long wait, the soldiers of the Indian Army are all set to receive bullet-proof jackets. The army has signed a contract with Tata Advanced Materials Limited for obtaining the jackets under "emergency" provision.

The deal is for 50,000 bullet-proof jackets that will cost Rs 140 crore. The delivery of the jackets will start from August and must be completed by January 2017, the Times of India reported citing defence ministry sources.

The delay in the induction of bullet-proof jackets has been blamed on "convoluted procurement procedures."

One of important issues to sort out for Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar when he took over in November 2014 was the acquisition of bullet-proof jackets for the army. He had approved the "interim emergency acquisition" via "revenue route."

In October 2015, the government had to scrap a tender for modular bullet-proof jackets as the six vendors who had offered their jackets, "failed" the tests set by the army's new GSQRs (technical parameters or general staff qualitative requirements), the report said. These jackets were supposed to sufficiently protect the head, neck, chest, groin and sides of the soldiers, while allowing them to move with greater agility.

The shortages in the bullet-proof jackets have been termed "critical" with several parliamentary committees reprimanding the government for not procuring new jackets.

The report also adds that the current deal for bullet-proof jackets is according to the older GSQR, and the rules were relaxed as "one-time exception" for fast-tracking their purchase. "The (defence) minister and Army vice-chief Lt.General M M S Rai pushed to expedite the entire process," the source added.

India has a 1.18-million strong army and there is a requirement of 3,53,000 odd jackets. The initial idea was to acquire 1.86 lakh jackets by 2012 and remaining 1.67 lakh by 2017.

Meanwhile, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has been testing a new bullet-proof jacket prototype that conforms with the new GSQRs. This prototype jacket uses various "state-of-the-art ballistic material" to protect against AK-47 and self-loading rifle bullets.

The source further added that stage-1 and stage-2 tests for the prototype jacket were successfully completed and it "will be" a contender when the government issues tender for the procurement of the bullet-proof jackets via "capital procurement."
 Tata motors to supply 619 HMVs to Indian Army
Indian automotive manufacturing company Tata Motors has secured a contract to supply additional high-mobility vehicles (HMV) for the Indian Army.

Under the terms of the contract, the company will provide the army with 619 6X6, multi-axle HMV trucks with material handling cranes.

The contract, which is the single largest land systems order awarded to an Indian private original equipment manufacturer (OEM), follows another contract awarded last year for the supply of 1,239 HMV trucks to the forces.

Tata Motors Defence & Government Business vice-president Vernon Noronha said: "With this contract we are proud to have received an additional order for 619 units, of our indigenously developed Tata 6x6 high-mobility vehicle, having cleared rigorous trials and successfully competed against products from rival bidders, from top European and global defence companies, underlining the stringent requirements of the Indian army, and the global standards of our defence offerings.

"In line with the government's 'Make in India' initiative, we will continue to focus on further developing a comprehensive range of defence vehicles right here in India, including front line combat vehicles such as the FICV, to meet the evolving requirements of defence forces in India, and around the world."
The high-mobility, all-terrain, all-wheel drive vehicle can be adapted for a range of applications, including common gun tower, rocket launcher and missile, and medium recovery functions.

Designed to cope with extreme on or off-road loads, the indigenously developed vehicle is fitted with a central tire inflation system (CTIS) for mobility in soft-sand desert conditions.

With features that allow the driver to adjust the tyre pressure from their seat, the truck also facilitates the vehicle with better traction on different types of surfaces, especially when carrying vital and heavy loads.

Capable of achieving sustained speeds of 40kmph on adverse terrain, the truck has undergone trials such as water-fording on cross country plains, and at the Vehicle Research & Development Establishment's torture track.
Army To Have 2 More Regiments Of Brahmos Missile, Says Manohar Parrikar
Pune:  Two more regiments of the short-range supersonic cruise missile, Brahmos, will be inducted into Army within next fifteen days, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said in Pune today.

"The process of induction of two more regiments (of Brahmos missile) in the Indian Army is in the final stage and within 15 days, these regiments will be inducted in Indian Army," he said.

The Defence Minister was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the commissioning ceremony for the 50th batch of medical graduates of all three forces at the Armed Forces Medical College.

Army is already equipped with three regiments of Block III version of Brahmos missiles. The proposed induction will upgrade its air defence capabilities.

Meanwhile, Mr Parrikar dismissed reports that central government was inclined to buy Israeli missiles rather than inducting domestically-manufactured 'Akash' in Army.

"Akash is already being inducted in Army and we are also developing very short missiles and till we develop them successfully, some missiles might have to be brought from outside," he said.

The minister said the "non-operational flab" in the armed forces needs to be slashed.

"I have asked Army, Air Force and Navy to identify the flab areas in their respective forces as there is a lot of unwanted flab which has been continuing due to systematic problems that need to be trimmed," he said.

Responding to a query on the Pathankot probe, he said the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) from Pakistan has been given access only to the "crime scene" whereas the operational base of air force has been barricaded.

"NIA, which is investigating the case, permitted the JIT only because they are sure that there are some people from Pakistan who were involved in the attack," said 

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