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Thursday, 30 June 2016

From Today's Papers - 30 Jun 2016

Salaries, pensions up 23 %
Not enough, say workers’ unions, call for nationwide strike next week
Girja Shankar Kaura

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 29
The Centre today approved recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission on pay and pension which will boost consumption and economy by putting extra disposable income in the hands of the 47 lakh Central Government employees and 53 lakh pensioners.

The decision to implement the recommendations, including 23.5 per cent  hike in pay and pension, was taken at a meeting chaired by PM Narendra Modi. Briefing the media, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Cabinet, however, deferred the revision of allowances.

Calling the hike “inadequate”, workers’ unions have decided to start protests from next week.

A panel headed by Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa would look into the pay panel recommendations in that regard as there was resentment among employees over the suggestions to scrap four allowances. Till then, existing allowances would continue.

In January, the government set up a panel headed by Cabinet Secretary PK Sinha to process pay panel recommendations. The commission had recommended a 23.5 per cent increase in pay, pension and allowances under a “business as usual” scenario. It envisaged a hike of Rs 39,100 crore in the pay bill, Rs 29,300 crore in allowances and Rs 33,700 crore in pension, taking the total financial impact for 2016-17 to Rs 1.02 lakh crore.

With allowances deferred, the burden on the exchequer would be Rs 72,800 crore on account of salaries and pension and over Rs 12,000 crore on account of arrears, aggregating to Rs 84,933 crore.

Of this, Rs 60,608 crore would come from the General Budget and Rs 24,325 crore from the Railway Budget.

The recommendations will be effective from January 1, 2016. The Finance Minister said, “The employees had to wait for 19 months for the implementation of the 5th Pay Commission and for 32 months in case of the 6th Pay Commission. This time, the 7th Pay Commission recommendations are being implemented within six months from the due date.”

The Cabinet also decided that pay and pension arrears would be paid in the current financial year (2016-17) itself, unlike in the past when parts of arrears were paid during the next financial year.

The minimum pay has been raised from Rs 7,000 to Rs 18,000 per month, while the maximum pay has been capped at Rs 2.5 lakh per month. The starting salary of a newly recruited employee at the lowest level will now be Rs 18,000, while it will be Rs 56,100 for a freshly recruited Class I officer. This reflects a compression ratio of 1:3.12 signifying that pay of a Class I officer on direct recruitment will be three times the pay of an entrant at lowest level. For the purpose of revision of pay and pension, a fitment factor of 2.57 will be applied across all levels in the pay matrices. The maximum pay is set at Rs 2.25 lakh per month for apex scale and Rs 2.5 lakh per month for Cabinet Secretary and others at the same pay level (as against the current Rs 90,000 per month).

The report had recommended replacing the present system of pay bands and grade pay with a new pay matrix. Separate pay matrices have been drawn up for civilians, defence personnel and Military Nursing Service. The principle and rationale behind these matrices are the same.

The Cabinet approved further improvements in “defence pay matrix” by enhancing “index of rationalisation” for brigadiers and providing for additional stages for Lt colonels, colonels and brigadiers to bring parity with their Combined Armed Police Forces counterparts. The lump sum ex gratia payable in respect of civil and defence personnel has been enhanced from Rs 10-20 lakh to Rs 25-45 lakh. The rate of Military Service Pay has been revised from Rs 1,000, 2,000, 4,200 and 6,000 to Rs 3,600, 5,200, 10,800 and 15,500, for defence personnel.

Govt okays 7th pay commission report

1 cr Central govt staff and pensioners to benefit

Rs 18,000 minimum pay, up from Rs 7,000; maximum hiked from Rs 90,000 to Rs 2.5 lakh

Rs 84,933 cr additional burden on the exchequer for 2016-17; this includes arrears for 6 months

    For a freshly recruited Class I officer, pay will be Rs 56,100
    Gratuity ceiling up from Rs 10 to Rs 20 lakh, will increase by 25% whenever DA rises by 50%
    The hike to be implemented  from January 1, 2016
    Increment rate retained at 3%
    Present system of pay bands and grade pay done away with
    Status of an employee, hitherto determined by grade pay, will now be determined by the level in pay matrix
    Separate pay matrices drawn up for civilians, defence personnel and for Military Nursing Service
    Further improvements in the Defence Pay Matrix approved by enhancing Index of rationalisation for Level 13A (brigadier) and providing for additional stages in Level 12A (Lt colonel), 13 (colonel) to bring parity with Combined Armed Police Forces counterparts
    Ceiling on House Building Advance to be raised from Rs 7.50 lakh to Rs 25 lakh
ISIS ‘module’ busted in Hyderabad, 5 arrested
Suresh Dharur

Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, June 29
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) today busted a suspected ISIS terror module  during raids in Hyderabad.

The agency arrested five persons and detained six others, including a techie, for questioning. They were “planning” attacks in the city, sources said. A large quantity of ammunition and explosives, two 9 mm pistols, 25 cellphones and Rs 15 lakh in cash were recovered during the raids.

The detained youths were allegedly in touch with their handlers in Syria. NIA Inspector-General Sanjeev Kumar Singh said they had carried out searches in 10 localities of the city.

 The police identified five of the arrested youths as Mohammad Illiyas Yazdani, Mohammad Ibrahim, Habib Mohammad, Mohammad Irfan and Abdullah Bin Ahmad. An FIR was registered against them on June 22. Sources said members of the ISIS module were plotting to incite communal riots in the city. They had acquired weapons and improvised explosive devices and were believed to be in touch with other terror groups through the social media network.

In January this year, the NIA had arrested two suspected ISIS operatives in Hyderabad. A high alert has been sounded at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad. Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel have been alerted too.

The Telangana unit of the BJP charged the TRS government with "criminal neglect" in preventing Hyderabad from becoming a "safe haven" for terrorists.

BJP spokesperson Krishna Sagar Rao said, “CM Chandrasekhar Rao’s soft approach and minority vote bank politics is taking a toll on the image of Hyderabad city.”
India shying away from talks: Aziz
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 29
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz today said India was “shying away” from engaging in a dialogue with Pakistan.

“It is actually India which is shying away as it knows that it has to discuss Kashmir and other issues on the dialogue table,” Aziz said.

His comments follow Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement, in an interview, that India has to be alert vis-a-vis with Pakistan and also that one doesn’t know who to talk to in Pakistan. Modi, in the interview, had said, “Our approach has created difficulties for Pakistan, and they find it hard to respond on the matter in the international community.”

“PM Modi’s logic is beyond perception,” Aziz was quoted as saying so by Radio Pakistan. “We have a format of comprehensive and composite dialogue with India that includes issues such as people-to-people contact, visa and fishermen issue, trade and economic cooperation, Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek,” he said.

India-Pakistan engagement is facing a virtual breakdown since the January Pathankot attack. The recent issue over the Nuclear Suppliers Group—- India’s membership bid and the consequent efforts by Pakistan to ensure that India doesn’t get in—- is also not going to help the two countries get back to talks anytime soon.

In the interview, Modi had questioned whether it is the elected government in Pakistan that India should talk to or other actors. The Pakistani army, though not mentioned by the PM, was the obvious reference.

“The first thing is that with Pakistan, to whom do we talk to decide about the lakshman rekha. Will it be with the elected government or with other actors? That is why India will have to be alert at all times,” Modi has said.
NSA alerts Pathankot airbase on ‘aerial attack’
Ravi Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Pathankot, June 29
The National Security Agency (NSA) has alerted the Pathankot Air Force station about a possible aerial attack by Pakistan-based terror outfits through micro-light aircraft, including gliders, and para-motors.

The authorities here have distributed posters warning residents about these aerial vehicles.

Sources claim that the authorities have gone on overdrive warning residents of ‘aerial offensives’ after the NSA sent alerts claiming that Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed may be planning these attacks.

The air base was declared a sensitive zone after the January 2 attack in which four militants and seven security personnel were killed.

On July 27 last year, three terrorists had laid siege to the police station in the border town of Dinanagar, 25 km from here, before they were gunned down in a 12-hour-long battle.

Sources claim that these aerial vehicles can be used for surveying sensitive areas and also to launch an offensive.

Scores of posters have been distributed in recent days in localities falling on the periphery of the air base. These posters contain pictures of gliders and have the telephone numbers of officials who can be contacted in case of an aerial threat.

Pathankot SSP Rakesh Kaushal said that he was in touch with air base officials and added that security in and around the city had been tightened.

The police have a special focus on the villages located near the international border and have also been holding security drills, including flag marches, in these areas.

“We are not taking any risks. Regular meetings are being held with the Army, BSF and various intelligence agencies to nullify any such offensive. Security has been tightened on the Pathankot-Jammu-Srinagar national highway as the tourist season is on,” said the SSP.

After issuing shoot-on-sight orders recently in villages and sub-urban areas located on the periphery of the Pathankot Air Force station, the distribution of posters is seen as the second major decision taken by the air base officials to check the terrorists.
7th Pay Commission latest news today: Disappointment for Defence personnel, ex Army chief cries ‘injustice’
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has agreed that the some of the suggestions of defence forces could not be taken into account.
New Delhi, June 29: Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared the revised recommendations of 7th pay Commission. A salary hike of 23.5 per cent, including allowances would be implemented. The basic pay would be increased by 15 per cent. Although the hike has satisfied the bureacrats to an extent, there is wide discontent among the defence personnels who are unhappy with their demand not paid heed to by the Secretaries Panel. Ex army chief General Roy Chowdhury has demanded the Finance Ministry to review the recommendations before taking the final call.

According to Gen Chowdhury, Committee of Secretaries has failed to failed to do justice with the defence personnels. The Uniform Pay Matrix has not been implemented. The Defence Pay Matrix in 7th Pay Commission has only 24 pay levels, on the other hand, the bureaucratic pay matrix has 40 levels. Due to this, not only the salary hike gets stagnated after some years of service, but the pensions which defence personnel draw is Rs 20,000 lower than civil employees after retirement.
The demand to provide allowances on par have also not been taken into account. Civilian employees are entitled to large number allowances, which are not provided to defence personnels. For example, a CAPF DIG posted in Leh, will get Rs 57,000 asw part of allowance. Whereas, a brigadier posted in the same region gets only Rs 17,000 allowance.
The third demand of military employees was to increase the disability pension with that provided to the bureacrats. While an Additional Secretary would get Rs 60,000 as disability pension, a Lt General would earn only Rs 27,000.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has agreed that the some of the suggestions of defence forces could not be taken into account. “Some of their demands have been accepted, some haven’t,” he said.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

From Today's Papers - 29 Jun 2016

India self-centered, spoiled: China snub
State-run paper hits out at New Delhi post-NSG fiasco
Simran Sodhi

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 28
The Chinese media today hit out at India, calling it “spoiled” and Indians “too self-centered and self-righteous”.

In an editorial in the state-run Global Times (GT), China also defended its decision to oppose India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). In a parallel development, the Chinese Foreign Ministry struck a far more conciliatory note, saying China wanted “fair, sensible and mutually acceptable solution” to all contentious issues between the two countries.
The comments came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India had a “whole lot of problems” with China.

“Common interests between the two countries far outweigh their differences. The Chinese side will work with the Indian side to steer the bilateral relations, and deepen cooperation in different fields,” the ministry said.

But, the GT editorial besides being critical of India did not spare the US either. India has pointed the finger at China for opposing its NSG bid and despite the fact that there were other nations opposed to its membership, India after the NSG fiasco stayed fixated on “one country” that persistently raised procedural concerns about India’s entry.

The GT editorial pointed out that China was correct in opposing India’s bid as the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) formed the basis of NSG membership. “Now India wants to be the first exception to join the NSG without signing the NPT. It is morally legitimate for China and other members to upset India’s proposal in defence of principles,” the editorial said.

It also mocked India for its attitude towards the US.

In another scathing indictment, the editorial said Indian nationalists should learn to behave themselves. It, however, spared the government: “On the contrary, the Indian Government behaves decently and is willing to communicate.”

The US is not the whole world. Its endorsement does not mean India has won the backing of the world
Armour plate for all CRPF buses in Valley
Paramilitary force to have relook at standard operating procedure after deadly Pampore attack
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 28
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has decided to “armour plate” all its buses in Kashmir. The move comes after the deadly militant attack on its men on Saturday.

Editorial:Shootout and after
Two militants ambushed a bus carrying CRPF troops and killed eight while injuring 22 at Pampore in Kashmir on Saturday. The steel sheets on the bus body provided no protection as these are not meant to stop bullets.
The Army has already armour-plated its buses used between Sonamarg and Banihal tunnel. CRPF DG Durga Prasad said, “After the attack on a BSF convoy (at Bijbehara in Anantnag on June 3), we started looking at the type of arrangement the Army has made to use bulletproof material or sheets all along the sides of the buses.”

The bulletproofing material can avoid casualties when persons inside the bus come under a hail of bullets. The DG had defended the application of the existing standard operating procedure (SOP), but said, “We need to look at it again on how best we can improve the existing SOPs.”

Sources say all Army troops sit by the window while the adjacent seats are kept vacant so as to allow space to duck in case of any militant attack. The troops always wear bulletproof jackets, bulletproof helmets and carry a loaded weapon. Moreover, highway domination teams move ahead of all its convoys.

The CRPF is mandated to ensure safety of civilian and VIP vehicle convoys moving on national highways, protect important buildings, including the state Assembly, and provide security for the annual Amarnath pilgrimage. Any change in its existing duties can be effected only after a meeting between the Home Ministry, the Defence Ministry and the Jammu and Kashmir Government. The force was deployed in the state to reduce footprint of the Army.
Top Hizb militant killed in Kupwara encounter
Clashes, protests in Sopore, police vehicle torched
Majid Jahangir

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, June 28
A top militant commander of pro-Pakistan militant group Hizbul Mujahideen was killed in a gunfight in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district on Tuesday.

The police said the divisional commander of the outfit in north Kashmir Sameer Ahmed Wani was killed in a gunfight that erupted in the wee hours at Nagri in Drugmulla, nearly 90 km from Srinagar, after an input was received about his presence in the area.

The village was cordoned off by a joint team of the 47 Rashtriya Rifles Battalion, Special Operation Group of the J&K Police and the CRPF following a tip-off that the militant was hiding inside a two-storeyed house of Ghulam Mouhidin.

“The house was cordoned off and the security forces made a number of attempts to convince the terrorist to surrender by making announcements through mega phones at the encounter site but the terrorist resorted to firing following which a gun battle ensued resulting in the elimination of the terrorist,” the Srinagar-based defence spokesman said. “The militant was involved in many terror-related incidents in the Sopore area. One Chinese pistol, ammunition and other war-like stores were recovered from the terrorist.”

Sameer, a resident of Dooru in Sopore, was active since May 2014 and had also been associated with the Lashkar-e-Islam for a brief time. The Lashkar-e-Islam was blamed by the police for a series mobile tower attacks in north Kashmir last year.

Sources said Sameer had gone to Kupwara to receive a fresh group of infiltrators from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. It could not be ascertained when he had to receive the group.

The sources, however, said the Hizbul Mujahideen had got a major boost in recent months after nearly a dozen militants from across the border joined it in north Kashmir. These freshly infiltrated militants of the group were hiding in the Handwara forests and Sopore areas.

Meanwhile, intense clashes and protests broke out in Kupwara and Sopore as the news about the killing of the local militant spread. A police vehicle carrying detainees was also torched by the protesters on the outskirts of Sopore. The policemen and the detainees abandoned the vehicle and reported to the nearest police post. The police had to use tear-smoke shells and fire in the air to disperse protesters at various places in and around Sopore.

There has been a spurt in violence in the last two weeks. Since June 14, 20 militants and 10 security men have been killed in various anti-militancy operations.
7th pay panel: Cabinet may clear bigger hike today
The Cabinet is likely to approve higher increase in basic pay than the nearly 15% recommended by the 7th Pay Commission tomorrow for over 1 crore government employees and pensioners.

The pay panel had in November last year recommended 14.27% hike in basic pay at junior levels, the lowest in 70 years. The previous 6th Pay Commission had recommended a 20% hike which the government doubled while implementing it in 2008.

After considering the increase proposed in allowances, the hike in remunerations comes to 23.55%.

“Considering the tight fiscal position this year, the government may improve upon the Pay Commission recommendation for basic pay to 18% or at best 20%,” a senior official said.

The 7th Pay Commission report will be effective from January 1, he said, adding that the Cabinet will decide if the arrears for the six months have to be paid in one go or in instalments.

A secretaries’ panel, headed Cabinet Secretary PK Sinha, has already vetted the 7th Pay Commission recommendation and its report is being translated into a note for Cabinet.

“It in most likelihood will come up before the Cabinet tomorrow,” the official said.

The government had in January set up the high-powered panel to process the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission which will have bearing on the remuneration of nearly 50 lakh Central government employees and 58 lakh pensioners.

The Commission had recommended 23.55% overall hike in salaries, allowances and pension involving an additional burden of Rs 1.02 lakh crore or nearly 0.7% of the GDP.

The entry level pay has been recommended to be raised to Rs 18,000 per month from current Rs 7,000 while the maximum pay, drawn by the Cabinet Secretary, has been fixed at Rs 2.5 lakh per month from current Rs 90,000.

The secretaries’ panel may have recommended raising minimum entry level pay at Rs 23,500 a month and maximum salary of Rs 3.25 lakh.

While the Budget for 2016-17 fiscal did not provide an explicit provision for implementation of the 7th Pay Commission, the government had said the once-in-a-decade pay hike for government employees has been built in as interim allocation for different ministries.

Around Rs 70,000 crore has been provisioned for it, the official said.
Pakistan not shying away from dialogue with India: Sartaj Aziz
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is not shying away from dialogue with India and Indian Prime Minister’s logic in this regard is beyond perception, Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said on Tuesday.

Commenting on recent statement of Indian Prime Minister in a television interview, the Advisor said, it was India who does not want to come to dialogue table and not Pakistan.

“Actually it is India which is shying away as it knows that it has to discuss the Kashmir issue and other issues on the dialogue table,” he said.

Sartaj Aziz said we have a format of comprehensive and composite dialogue with India that includes issues like people to people contact, visa and fishermen issue, trade and economic cooperation and the issues like Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek.

He said the Sir Creek relates to Navies of both the countries and Siachen relates to the Armies. “Indian Army also has stakes in Siachen and when last time both the governments had reached an agreement, it was the Indian Army who had rejected it.”

He said there is also mechanism of Prime Minister to Prime Minister, Foreign Minister to Foreign Minister and Foreign Secretary to Foreign Secretary level contacts and discussion.

“India should come forward and do not escape from dialogue,” he said and added, since many years it is India who is not interested in starting dialogue. “India is escaping from dialogue on one pretext or the other, not Pakistan.”

He said, as far as the matter of the establishment is concerned all over the world the governments consult their establishments. “We also have a mechanism of consultation. Let India come to dialogue table and if we shall need any consultation with our institutions, that is our affair.”

Sartaj Aziz said the excuse made by the Indian Prime Minister that with whom India should talk in Pakistan was beyond perception. –APP

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Artillery gun purchase first ‘baby step’ towards meeting Army’s needs
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 27
The recent decision of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to acquire a new set of artillery guns is literally the first “baby step” towards meeting the Army’s artillery modernisation plans drawn up in 1999.

The MoD okayed the letter of acceptance that would be delivered to the US supplier, BAE Systems, for 145 ultra light howitzers (ULH) of the 155 mm variety. This was the first formal okay for a 155 mm gun since March 1986 when the Bofors guns were purchased.

The Army’s artillery modernisation has ambitious needs. Called the Field Artillery Rationalization Plan, and drawn up in 1999, it talks about acquiring 2,800 guns by 2027. The first step in that direction was taken on Saturday, but the follow-up steps are expected to be rapid.

The plan talks about 155 mm guns of all types—that is 1,580 towed guns, 814 truck-mounted guns, 100 tracked self-propelled guns,180 wheeled self-propelled guns and 145 ultra light howitzers.

The bulk will come through when mounted guns and towed guns are procured. International companies have been invited for this to join the “Make in India” initiative.

To apply for the contract of the 1,580 towed guns, French company Nexter has teamed up with local partner Larsen & Toubro. Israel’s Elbit Systems has partnered with Bharat Forge.

In case of the 814 truck-mounted guns, Nexter and L&T have bid, along with Ashok Leyland. TATA has South African gun-maker “The Denel” as its partner.

The immediate addition to the artillery gun numbers could come from two separate tenders. First is a “tracked self-propelled” gun mounted on a tank-track type chassis. India plans to buy 100 pieces of this. The MoD is negotiating with the L&T-Samsung combine. The evaluation process is over and the price bids were opened in December 2015.

The second will be the indigenous Dhanush gun, based on Bofors design and transfer of technology. The MoD yesterday laid down a stiff time line for the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), its maker, to be ready with six “production-level prototypes” for trials and bulk orders will follow. The Army want to acquire 114 pieces of this.
India now part of elite missile club
Likely to boost ‘Make in India’ project
Simran Sodhi

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 27
India today formally joined the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) as the 35th member of the international grouping. This may come as a relief to the Modi government, reeling under the rejection of its membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) at the Seoul conclave.

In 2015, India’s membership to the MTCR was blocked by Italy, which was upset with India over the detention of its two marines. The path was cleared when the second marine, Salvatore Girone, was allowed to return to Italy in May this year.

During a brief ceremony this morning, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar signed the instrument of accession to the MTCR in the presence of France’s Ambassador-designate Alexandre Ziegler, the Netherlands Ambassador Alphonsus Stoelinga and Luxembourg’s ChargĂ© d’Affaires Laure Huberty.

India had recently joined The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCoC) which brought it closer to the MTRC membership.

(Follow The Tribune on Facebook and Twitter @thetribunechd)

Since 2008, when India signed the historic Indo-US civil nuclear deal, it has been trying to get a berth in international groupings such as the NSG, MTCR and Wassenaar Arrangement.

The MTCR membership is especially sweet to India since China is not yet a member of this group. India, pointing an accusing finger at China, has said that “one country raised procedural issues and blocked India’s membership of the NSG”.  

The MTCR membership is expected to give a boost to the NDA government’s  ‘Make in India’ project. It will enable India to buy high-end missile technology.

France welcomed India into the MTCR, saying, “France welcomes India’s commitment to combating the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. As of June 27, India is participating in the Missile Technology Control Regime.”

It went on to state that India’s adherence would contribute to “better regulating the proliferation of equipment that could be used in missiles or drones capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction”. France has been very supportive of India’s bid to join the NSG.
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 27
Ending a 32-year wait for an indigenous fighter jet, the first squadron of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Tejas, is scheduled to be inducted into the Air Force on July 1.

This will be the first version of the jets. Two successive improved versions, having better radars, missiles and greater war-fighting abilities, are slated to be inducted by 2019. A report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its report in May 2015 said Rs 10,397.11 crore had been spent on the development of the plane that was originally scheduled to be inducted around 15 years ago.

The final operation clearance (FOC) of the jet is expected by December this year. The plane, powered by US engines GE 404, will carry air-to-air missiles, precision guided ammunition, but will not carry a beyond visual range (BVR) missile for at least one year.

A BVR missile (a key weapon on modern-day fighter jets) and the mid-air refuelling facility are still being tested and will be incorporated later, IAF sources said today. Having a BVR was one of the requirements for the FOC, but it would be added soon after tests were over.

The first squadron will be raised at Bangalore with two planes, six more will be added by December this year while another six will come by the end of 2017. IAF officials explained the raising of the squadron with only two planes saying “we have to start with some number”. Technically, only a squadron can “own” planes and no squadron can be raised with a full complement (of around 18 planes) or else we will have to wait till all 18 planes are produced.

It will be squadron number 45 called the “flying daggers” which earlier flew the MiG-21 jets. For the next 18 months, it will be based at Bangalore to sort out initial issues with plane-maker Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) following which it will be stationed at Sulur, near Coimbatore, in Tamil Nadu.

“Very soon a small unit of Tejas will be based in an operational area to test its abilities,” IAF officials said, adding that the plane had undertaken 3,000 sorties without an accident. It is a very capable flying machine and any comparison with contemporary jets can be made only after the IAF flies it over the next few months.

The first batch of 20 Tejas jets will be produced by 2018. It will be followed by 20 jets of an improved version. The second improvement will have 80 jets with production to start in 2019. This will be equipped with better radars (AESA), greater ranger of BVR missiles and advanced short-range missiles.

Off the 43 improvements suggested to HAL, all those related to flight safety have already been sorted out, an IAF official said.
Army says it killed Pampore militants, deletes tweet after CRPF objects
Hardly had the guns fallen silent after Saturday’s ambush of a CRPF contingent by militants in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pampore when a row erupted between the paramilitary force and the Indian Army over who killed the attackers.

While the army said it killed two militants believed to be from Pakistan in retaliatory fire, the CRPF lodged a protest against it for “wrongly claiming credit”.

The CRPF, which has been involved in counter-militancy operations in the Kashmir valley, alleged some army troopers arrived at the scene after the encounter was over and started clicking selfies with the bodies of the slain militants.
Within no time, the army’s Northern Command tweeted: “Army kills two terrorists who fired upon CRPF convoy at Pampore, Kashmir Ops in prog. Injured CRPF personnel being attended to.”

Fuming, the CRPF men and officers took up the matter with the army’s top brass.

Soon thereafter, the official Twitter account of Northern Command posted a revised message, saying “Update on Pampore ops. Injured CRPF personnel evacuated to hospital. Two terrorists killed in joint op by security forces.”

Officers of the CRPF informed their seniors and the army that there was no joint operation. They said the army personnel arrived on the scene after the encounter was over and walked away with weapons carried by the militants, besides clicking selfies with their bodies.

“They were wrongly claiming credit for an operation of which they had no clue,” said an officer who was associated with the developments on Saturday when two militants attacked a CRPF bus at Pampore, on the outskirts of Srinagar, killing eight security personnel and wounding 21 before being felled in the counteroffensive by the paramilitary force.
An official said the army was shown videos of its men busy clicking selfies after which the Northern Command tweeted: “Update on Pampore Ops. Two terrorists killed by CRPF in retaliatory action. Earlier tweet stands corrected.”

Director general of CRPF K Durga Prasad, who was on Monday asked at a press conference whether the army had played any role in the encounter, said: “Army’s 51 RR (Rashtriya Rifles) unit reached the spot after the incident got over.”

When contacted, a spokesperson for the Srinagar-based 15 Corps Col NN Joshi refused to comment.

Friday, 24 June 2016

From Today's Papers - 24 Jun 2016

Not So Good going on NSG
Opposition from multiple nations as Modi pushes case with China
Simran Sodhi

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 23
India made the final push for its entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) as Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Tashkent today. While Modi asked Jinping to “make a fair and objective assessment of India’s application”, the news coming from Seoul, where a special session of the NSG is being held to discuss India's membership, was not that positive.

Apart from China, which has been vocal about its opposition, Brazil, New Zealand, Ireland and Turkey were also not welcoming about India’s induction into the elite nuclear club. Most of these nations have expressed reservations about India not being a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The special session of the NSG, which began post-dinner in Seoul, concluded without reaching any decision on India’s membership. The discussions will continue tomorrow when a final call on India’s candidature can be expected.

Meanwhile, Pakistan made sure that it was not left behind in the game for the NSG membership and its President Mamnoon Hussain also met Jinping in Tashkent today. According to a press note issued by the Pakistan foreign ministry, both leaders discussed the issue of Pakistan's entry into the NSG.

Pakistan has been consistently saying if an exception can be made for India, it should also be allowed to join the NSG. Both India and Pakistan have not signed the NPT. Hussain told Jinping that “any exception given for NSG membership could disturb strategic stability in South Asia”.

The meeting between Modi and Jinping lasted for about 45 minutes. The Ministry of External Affairs said most of the meeting was devoted to this issue and Modi told Jinping that “China should contribute to the emerging consensus in Seoul”. The Chinese side did not come out with any details of the meeting and made no comments on what had been the response of Jinping to the Modi's request.

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar led a team of officials in Seoul, lobbying for India's candidature. Despite the US, the UK, France and Switzerland backing the India's bid, the going has been tough for India.

While China's opposition was always known, what might come as a shock to many here is the resistance being put up by smaller countries. India, in a bid to woo many of these nations, had sent senior diplomats of the foreign ministry to these countries so as to address their concerns.

For now, the suspense continues as discussion will resume in Seoul tomorrow morning on India’s bid for the NSG membership. The final outcome will then seal the deal for India—one way or the other.
Can’t give ‘lame excuses’ for project delays: DRDO chief
Kolkata, June 23
As it faces flak for delays in executing defence projects, the state-run DRDO chief today said it couldn’t give “lame excuses” and that the reasons for the hold-up were being explained to the government.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) at the same time said it was not only ready to compete with foreign companies, but also to export products in the wake of the FDI reforms unveiled in the defence sector.

On Monday, the government announced the opening up of the defence sector by allowing foreign companies to own up to 100 per cent equity.

When asked at a news conference about the repeated delays in the execution of various projects by the DRDO, its Director General S Christopher said when those programmes and projects were taken up they never realised the complexity.

“If I have said seven years (for delivering a product), then at the end of seven years someone will knock at my door. So that is the problem of miscalculation of number of years,” he said.

The second issue, he noted, was that during the gestation period the requirement of the defence forces sometimes increases and therefore the product development takes more time.

“A new product takes a lot of time (to develop) even in other countries. When you take submarines, it takes not less than three decades. Air-borne air-warning system has taken not less than 15 years even in the US. We are also in a similar situation,” he said.

“These are areas where we are stuck. We can’t give lame excuses. We are explaining these to the government,” he said.

The DRDO, functioning under the Ministry of Defence, undertakes design and development of products and technologies to suit the requirement of the three wings of the Indian armed forces. “There may be a possibility when a big company with 100 per cent FDI comes with its technology and gives us competition. We are raring to go for the competition,” he said.

On the government’s thrust on “Make in India”, Christopher said it was a bonanza as far as DRDO was concerned. — PTI
Parrikar likely to approve purchase of artillery guns
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 23
In what will be the first major weapon purchase aimed at bolstering the upcoming Mountain Strike Corps of the Army, the Ministry of Defence is expected to approve the purchase of 145 artillery guns specially meant for deployment in the Himalayas.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), headed by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, is scheduled to meet on Saturday to take a final call on the purchase of the 155mm M777 ultra-light howitzer (ULH). It will also decide on new warships carrying deadly missiles. It will also discuss the issue of having the ‘midget’ submarines used for special operations under the sea.

The cost negotiation with BAE Systems for the supply of 145 guns is complete and the deal is expected to be signed at price between $725 million and $740 million. This will be the main ground-based weapon for the Mountain Strike Corps. The BAE has further tied up with Mahindra to make 50 per cent of the guns in India.

BAE Systems will be asked to start deliveries within six months after signing the contract. In May last year, the DAC had approved the purchase of the ULH, which was originally proposed in 2008. Made of titanium, each gun weighs 4,000 kg, making it transportable by CH-47 Chinook helicopters, C-17 Globemaster and the C-130 Hercules aircraft or by trucks to ensure increased mobility in the mountains.

In case of the warships, the Navy will be setting six missile carrying vessels that will replace the 1980’s design Soviet-era ships of this type. These will carry the BrahMos, surface-to-air missiles, medium-range guns, and close-in weapons systems. It will cost Rs 13,000 crore (approx).

Also, the DAC will approve the installation of the 300-km range BrahMos missile on six warships, three of the Delhi class and three of the Talwar class. It will cost Rs 2,700 crore.

The DAC will also decide on buying 44,000 automatic hand-held carbines for the Army. An Israeli company has emerged as the top bidder following trials.
'Pocket Battleships' Part Of Navy's Mega-Growth Plans
On a day when the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told Armed Forces commanders to focus on India's 'Look East' policy by stepping up joint exercises with friendly countries in South East Asia, details have emerged of plans to significantly expand the Navy's war-fighting capability.

On Saturday, the Defence Acquisition Committee of the Ministry of Defence is expected to review and clear proposals worth nearly Rs. 29,000 crore for a host of new generation warships, upgrades and Naval fighting systems.
Among the most significant, is a proposal to construct an all-new class of six next-generation missile boats in India, which, once completed, will be among the most powerful vessels of their class in the world. The 1,250-ton 'pocket battleships' are to be armed with Brahmos anti-shipping missiles which can strike targets at sea and on land 300 kilometres away.

The boats, which will replace the Navy's ageing Prabal class missile-boats, will also be equipped with surface to air missiles, close-in-weapon-systems to intercept hostile missiles, a main gun and point defence guns to counter threats, potentially from terrorists operating in small fast boats. They will be built in India and with the project likely to cost Rs. 13,000 crores.
Heavily armed for their size, the missile boats follow a recent trend of modern Navies building a new generation of small missile armed ships. In October last year, the Russian Navy launched 26 missiles from four small frigates and corvettes in the Caspian Sea to strike ISIS targets more than 1,500 kilometres away.

The Indian Navy, for its part, has long favoured small missile boats. In the 1971 war against Pakistan, an Indian variant of the 245 ton Russian designed Osa class missile boats caused widespread destruction on Pakistani shipping in and around Karachi harbour in the first use of anti-ship missiles in combat in the region. This was only the second time in Naval warfare that anti-ship missiles had been used successfully in combat. So successful was Operation Trident as it was known, that the Navy celebrates Navy Day every year on December 4 to mark the occasion.

Other than missile boats, the Navy is set to significantly upgrade its legacy Delhi class destroyers and the relatively new Talwar class frigates with the made-in-India Brahmos missile, significantly expanding their offensive firepower. The existing weaponry of less-capable Klub anti-ship missiles which currently equip the Delhi and Talwar class may be transferred to older warships though these plans are still being finalised. The deal to upgrade these warships will cost 2700 crores which will include the entire Brahmos missile complex including practice missile rounds.

Significantly, the Navy wants to upgrade its ability to carry out clandestine operations by its Marine Commandos who will now be equipped with two Special Operations Vehicles (SOV), essentially mini-submarines, to be built at Hindustan Shipyards Limited in Visakhapatnam. Each SOV will embark three swimmer delivery vehicles (SDV) to be used by specialist divers in commando operations. This project is worth Rs. 2000 crores.

As part of its overall blue-water plans, the Navy sees fleet support ships as an essential force-multiplier giving it the ability to operate far away from Indian shores. To this end, Hindustan Shipyards Limited and Hyundai Heavy Industries of South Korea have been in talks for the construction of five Fleet Support Ships in India worth Rs. 9000 crores. It is unclear at this stage if the deal will involve a government to government deal between India and South Korea or will be negotiated between the two companies involved.

Finally, the Navy plans to acquire five diving support craft in a Make-in-India proposal for 150 crores to replace its elderly vessels.

Naval ship-building is an area of strength in India and the biggest success-story of this government's Make in India plans in the defence sector. For decades India has been designing and manufacturing the ships it needs from its own aircraft carriers to nuclear submarines.
Indian army team completes mountain cycling expedition


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