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Friday, 15 April 2016

From Today's Papers - 15 Apr 2016

Major Deswal’s body flown out for last rites
Imphal/jhajjar, April 14
The body of Major Amit Deswal, who was killed in an encounter yesterday, was recovered from a remote place in Tamenglong district of Manipur today and flown to Jorhat.

The body will be taken to Surheti village in Jhajjar district of Haryana for last rites.

Maj Deswal, who belonged to 21 Para Special Forces, was paid tributes with full military honours. His father, Subedar Rishiraj Deswal (retd), who was visiting his son, was the first to lay a wreath on the coffin.

Maj Deswal was killed in a gunbattle with ZUF militants in the densely forested Nungba area during a combing operation undertaken jointly by Rashtriya Rifles and Special Forces personnel. One of the militants was also killed.

The officer is survived by his wife and three-year-old son Arjun. The combing operation, which was on for the past few days, has been called off, official sources said.

Major Deswal cleared the CDS exam at the age of 19 in 2005. Physically robust, he was awarded ‘Commando Dagger’ after he joined elite 21 Para in January 2011. “He loved challenges and faced them with courage,” recalled his crestfallen uncle Shamsher Singh. Amit’s father, Rishiraj Deswal, retired as Subedar in the Army. His grandfather Nathu Ram too had served in the armed forces.

Rishiraj was in Manipur visiting his son when the tragic news came. “Originally belonging to Surheti village, Rishiraj built a house in Jhajjar three years ago. Amit had come home for his brother Ankit's marriage in February,” recalled Shamsher Singh. Ankit said he last spoke to his brother over the phone on Saturday when he, along with his unit members, was headed to Tamenglong for combing operations.
The Handwara tragedy
Testing time for Chief Minister Mehbooba
A new the wave of violence has swept northwest Kashmir coinciding with the Chief Minister’s first-ever visit to New Delhi. The violence was triggered by an alleged molestation of a young girl   by a soldier in Handwara town on Tuesday.  She has denied this in a video that itself has invited criticism and charged a group of youths with creating the whole trouble. There obviously is something more than what meets the eye. The Army suspects a conspiracy orchestrated by the separatist-inclined forces  to “malign its image.”

The two inquiries, ordered by the Army and the state government, will serve  their purpose only if  allowed to reach their conclusions in  a transparent manner  by applying the principle of accountability. The past experience doesn’t offer much ground for optimism.  This is a testing time for the new Chief Minister to ensure that not only the inquiries are conducted in a fair manner but also appear to be impartial and result-oriented. It is time for her to prove that she is different and that she means business.

Mehbooba has a double-task at hand. Her effort should be to seek punishment for those who killed the protesters and also  go deeper into the malaise that has resulted in the current turmoil. There is an attempt by separatists and some other quarters to push her in a  confrontational mode with Delhi, hoping instability in which they do thrive. It is a toxic idea. It would create more trouble and sour the Srinagar-Delhi relationship.  She cannot afford to get trapped in that strategy; not because of the political arithmetic of the PDP and the BJP but primarily because that would produce no gains. She must take control of things  as the Chairman of the Unified Headquarters, the highest policy-making body of the security  affairs in Jammu and Kashmir, and ensure that command-and-control works. Equally important is the  task  of administering the much-needed “healing touch” to the people in the real sense of the phrase. Her test lies in making right decisions. If she insists on wanting to please all, she would please none.
At sea with ageing fleet, cost & time overruns
Dinesh Kumar
The Indian Navy, considered a vital instrument of diplomacy, power projection and essential for safeguarding the country's manifold maritime interests, is suffering from serious time and cost overruns. The country can ill afford these deficiencies, especially with China’s increased presence in the Indian Ocean.
ON April 11, Ashton Carter became the first US Secretary of Defence to visit an aircraft carrier belonging to the Indian Navy when he was taken on board the 44,400-tonne Soviet-origin INS Vikramaditya. While New Delhi's intention was to showcase the Navy's currently largest and most powerful vessel, mandarins in South Block cannot be unaware of the serious deficiencies that afflict the Indian Navy, considered a vital instrument of diplomacy, power projection and credible second-strike capability in the event of a nuclear war.    

 In many ways INS Vikramaditya's pre-induction history and current status serves as a microcosm to what ails the Navy. Firstly, like the Army and the Air Force, the Navy is similarly largely import-dependent for all its submarines and fighter and maritime reconnaissance aircraft, most helicopters, a few ships and for many sub systems, including missiles.

The Navy continues to suffer delays in most inductions while remaining dependent on foreign vendors for requirements ranging from spares, servicing and mid life upgrades, to name a few. Inefficient ship-building yards and manpower-related problems have added to the woes.

In the case of INS Vikramaditya, a helpless New Delhi was forced by Moscow to renegotiate the contract to a significantly higher $2.3 billion. The purchase of 45 Russian-made MiG-29K fighters for the aircraft carrier cost another $2 billion. Secondly, considerable cost and time overruns in almost all production and developmental projects continue to be a cause  of serious concern. INS Vikramaditya entered service in June 2014, almost 10-and-a-half years after the purchase contract was signed. Resultantly, the MiG-29Ks, first inducted four years prior in February 2010, had begun depreciating well before they could be operationalised.

Further, just as the Navy functioned with a solitary aircraft carrier (INS Viraat) for 19 years — from 1995 to 2014 — it is again back to being a one-carrier Navy, with the 56-year-old INS Viraat now practically retired.

A second aircraft carrier, currently under indigenous development (INS Vikrant), is already running six years behind schedule and is at least another three years from entering service. Meantime, its cost has risen six-fold — from Rs 3,261 crore to Rs 19,341 crore.

The three Kolkata-class stealth guided missile Destroyers, originally due for commissioning in 2009 and 2010, were inducted after a five to seven years’ delay in 2014, 2015 and 2016 — at an over three-fold  cost increase from Rs 3,580 crore to Rs 11,662 crore. Two of the four Kamorta-class anti-submarine warfare corvettes, originally scheduled for delivery in 2009, 2011 and 2012, were only delivered in 2014 and 2016 — with two more still awaited. The cost, meanwhile, has more than doubled from Rs 3,051 crore to Rs 7,852 crore. Also running behind schedule is the construction of five  offshore patrol vessels, 80 interceptor craft and four attack crafts.

 The worst is the submarine fleet, considered critical to complete the nuclear triad and to accompany the Navy's aircraft carriers among other tasks. The Navy's conventional submarines, which regularly require breaking surface to charge its batteries thus rendering it vulnerable to detection each time, is down to just 13, with 12 of them between 22 and 30 years old.

Even the solitary youngest submarine is already 16 years old. The Navy has not inducted a single submarine since 2000, even though the government in 1999 cleared a 30-year plan to induct 24 submarines by 2030.

The Navy will get its first conventional submarine (French-origin Scorpene) only in 2017, with five more by 2021 with no further induction decided and, therefore, 18 short of the original plan. India's indigenously developed nuclear-powered submarine, INS Arihant, is undergoing sea trials since December 2014. Two more are currently under construction, while six more have been cleared for construction for which, however, no deadline has been fixed. China, in contrast, operates about 60 submarines, nine of them nuclear-powered.

 The Navy has a shortfall of 61 integral helicopters on its ships; has no deep submergence rescue vehicles for rescuing sailors from submarines; and is dependent on the US in case a submarine is disabled deep under water.

Most existing vessels are ageing and would necessitate decommissioning in the next 10 years. The current six mine sweepers, for example, are over 25 years old. Besides, it has suffered an unprecedented frequency of accidents and deaths  a staggering 59 accidents between June 2007 and November 2014, 14 of which occurred in 2014 alone and 24 between 2012 and 2014.

The most serious was the sinking of INS Sindhurakshak, a Russian-made kilo class submarine, following a series of blasts in the torpedo section in August 2013. The shortage of officers and sailors is, respectively, almost 1,600 (14.5 per cent) and 1,11,000 (17 per cent).

 The Navy is finding it hard to maintain a force level of 138 ships and submarines approved by the government 52 years ago in 1964, let alone increase levels to 198 ships and submarines approved by the defence acquisition council in 2012.

All this is hardly comforting for a 21st- century Navy, with a maritime responsibility that includes safeguarding a 7,517- km coastline, island territories across two seas at considerable distances from the mainland and a 2 million sq km exclusive economic zone; maintaining sea lanes of communication to ensure safe passage of ocean trade which constitutes 95 per cent by volume and 77 per cent by value.

In addition to these maritime responsibilities, the Navy also has to conduct anti-piracy and anti-terrorist operations and a wide range of maritime emergencies.  Of course, it also has to counter the increased Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean region.
MoD defers call on fixed COSC chief
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 14
The Ministry of Defence has for now deferred a decision on having a permanent chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) to coordinate all issues between the three Services and the ministry.

At present, the senior-most among the three Chiefs — of the Army, IAF and Navy — also holds the post of COSC Chairman in addition to his regular duties. He notionally coordinates the issues on behalf of the three Services.

Sources have confirmed that various aspects of having an additional officer at that level are still under study. “It will take another six months to examine his role, status and duties,” a source said. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is studying various aspects related to the creation of the new post.

The Naresh Chandra task force, set up by the UPA government in 2011, on higher defence reforms had in its report in 2012 suggested a four-star officer as a permanent chairman of the COSC, who will be equal in rank of the three Chiefs.

Sources said the government was planning a permanent chairman for COSC having two-year tenure with equal rank and protocol as the Chiefs of the three Services. The chiefs, because of their retirement age of 62 instead of 60 years, have a tenure that is usually longer than two years.

One thinking in the government is that the COSC should be headed by the “first among equals within the Chiefs”. This would entail appointment of the senior-most General as the permanent chairman of the COSC in the armed forces bound by hierarchy.

He will be the boss of the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS), which is presently headed by a Lt General-rank officer in rotation among the three Services.

The government’s thinking is that a permanent COSC Chairman, backed by a strong administrative structure, will have ample time to focus on tri-Services’ issues and would be better placed to coordinate between the Army, Navy and Air Force.

The officer will be responsible for all military acquisition processes, Strategic Forces Command, cyber command and on promoting “jointmanship” within the forces.

A single-point military adviser’s post in the form of Chief of Defence Staff was proposed by K Subrahmanyam-led Kargil Review Committee set up by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government after the Kargil war.
Indian, Chinese armies hold 2 border meetings in Ladakh
Tribune News Service

Jammu, April 14
Ahead of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s four-day visit to China to discuss a host of issues, including maintaining peace on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the armies of the two countries today held ceremonial border personnel meetings (BPMs) in the Chushul and Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) sectors in the Ladakh region to mark harvest festival.

Parrikar is scheduled to visit China from April 17 and it will be followed by National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval’s visit, probably on April 20.

“Ceremonial border personal meetings (BPMs) on the occasion of harvest festival were conducted today at Indian BPM Hut in Chushul and Indian Meeting Point Hut at Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) in eastern Ladakh,” said Northern Command’s Defence spokesperson Col SD Goswami.

“The delegations were led by Brig Rajender Rai in Chushul and by Col BS Uppal in DBO. The Chinese delegations were led by Senior Col Wang Jun Xian in Chushul and by Lt Col Duan Yu Gangin,” added Col Goswami.

The ceremonial border personal meetings were marked by saluting the national flags by both the delegations members.

This was followed by the ceremonial address by both delegation leaders, which was composed of exchange of greetings and wishes and reflected the mutual desire of maintaining and improving relations at the functional level at the border.

Thereafter a culture programme showcasing Indian culture and traditional grandeur was organised.

Both the delegations interacted in a free, congenial and cordial environment. The delegation parted amidst feeling of friendship and commitment towards enhancing the existing cordial relations and maintaining peace along the LAC. Both sides also sought to uphold the treaties and agreement signed between the governments of the two sides to maintain peace and tranquility along the LAC.
India, China Army Comdrs call for peace along LAC
JAMMU, Apr 14: As Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval prepared to leave for China to strengthen bilateral ties especially defence cooperation between the two nations, Sino-Indian military officials met at two places in Eastern Ladakh sector and reiterated their commitment to maintain peace along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Top military commanders of Indian Army and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China met at Chushul and Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO), the Border Meeting Point (BMPs) between the two nations in Eastern Ladakh sector this morning and called for peace and tranquility along the LAC and resolving the local issues of transgressions and others on spot by holding regular contacts.
“India and China sought to build on mutual feeling to uphold the treaties and agreement signed between the Governments of two countries from time to time to maintain peace and tranquility along the LAC,” Defence spokesman (MoD) Col SD Goswami told the Excelsior.
He said Brigadier Rajender Rai led the Indian delegation in Chushul BMP and Col BS Uppal at DBO. The PLA of China was represented by Senior Col Wang Jun Xian at Chushul and Lt Col Duan Yu Gangin in DBO.
Official sources said the Sino-Indian military officials decided that any issue of transgressions by either side or any other concerns of mutual interests would be addressed by the two countries at the BMPs in Eastern Ladakh sector on spot before the issues flare up.
“There was unanimity among the Army officials of the two countries that they should hold regular contacts at the BMPs to resolve the issues, if any, between them and address problems of the people,” they said.
Only yesterday, the people of village Demchok, falling close to LAC with China, had held massive demonstration demanding that they should be permanently settled elsewhere as the Chinese Army continued to raise objections to any kind of constructions. The PLA was objecting to laying water pipes from a spring at Demchok.
The Sino-Indian meeting at Eastern Ladakh came just few days before three significant meetings between leadership of the two countries.
While Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is visiting China on three days visit from April 18 to strengthen bilateral defence ties between the two countries especially military cooperation and boundary agreement etc, NSA Doval was also scheduled to visit Beijing and meet his counterpart and State Councillor Yang Jiechi.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will meet her counterpart Wang Yi on April 18 during trilateral talks at Moscow in Russia.
Sources said India will take up the issue of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar at all levels with China. It may be mentioned here that China had opposed declaration of Azhar as international terrorist at the United Nations, a move proposed by India.
India had taken strong exception to the Chinese move.
Meanwhile, both the Armies agreed to uphold the treaties and agreements signed between the Governments of the two sides during their meetings at Chushul and DBO Border Meeting Points.
The meetings were held on the occasion of ‘harvest festival’.
“The delegation parted amidst feeling of friendship and commitment towards enhancing the existing cordial relations and maintaining peace along the LAC.
“Both sides also sought to build on the mutual feeling to uphold the treaties and agreement signed between the Governments of the two sides to maintain peace and tranquility along the LAC,” sources said.
The ceremonial border personal meeting was marked by saluting the National flags by both the delegation members. It was followed by the ceremonial address by both delegation leaders which was composed of exchange of greetings and wishes and reflected the mutual desire of maintaining and improving relations at functional level at the border, they said.
Both the delegations interacted in a free, congenial and cordial environment, they added.

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