Thursday, December 31, 2009

Army hunts for guns to shoot around corners


NEW DELHI: Having learnt lessons from the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, the Army has launched a global hunt for suitable weapon systems `for shooting around the corner' for its troops involved in counter-terrorism operations.

These `cornershot' rifles and pistols, with detachable high-resolution video cameras and monitors mounted on them, will help Army special forces like the Para-SF units to effectively tackle terrorists in urban warfare scenarios.

"Such close-quarter combat weapons will help our commandos to observe and engage targets from behind a corner -- for instance, while storming a building or a room -- without exposing themselves to direct fire from terrorists,'' said an officer.

"American, Israeli and a few other forces already use such weapons... The front parts of their barrels, mounted with video cameras, can swivel 60 to 70 degree on either side to scan and direct fire around corners,'' he added.

Floating the Request for Information (RFI), the Army's weapons and equipment directorate wants armament companies to submit their proposals by January 30. This comes soon after elite counter-terror force National Security Guards launched the process to acquire cornershot weapons as well as wall surveillance radars to monitor what is the situation inside a room without actually entering it.

"Such new-generation equipment is very effective in neutralising terrorists in situations like 26/11, where commandos had to clear the five-star hotels in room-to-room flushing out operations,'' said the officer.

The Army's RFI specifies the cornershot weapons must be able to `engage targets effectively beyond 200 metres' and have day/night vision capability.

While the exact number of the weapons to be acquired is yet to be finalised, officers said transfer of technology to manufacture them indigenously was being sought since "a large quantity'' was required.

"The weapon systems should also have image downloading and transmission capability so that the enemy can be located and information shared with other troops to enable the commandos to take the best positions to engage the targets,'' said an officer.

Cricket cover for bloodshed



Militants armed with pistols shot dead four paramilitary constables in a Kashmir town today and snatched two rifles before escaping as the bloodied state staggered towards the New Year under a fresh surge in violence.

One of the constables killed was from Purulia in Bengal, CRPF sources said, adding that other jawans in the group couldn’t fire back as children were playing cricket.

The afternoon attack in Sopore, 54km from Srinagar, came even as Valley police claimed a drop in militancy-related incidents to less than 500 this year, the lowest in 20 years.

Sopore additional police chief Abdul Waheed said three constables died on the spot while another succumbed to injuries later. Another jawan is in hospital.

Earlier, CRPF spokesman Prabhakar Tripathi said the constables of the 177 Battalion were on a road-opening operation when they came under attack in Warpora on the Sopore-Bandipora road.

“Three jawans were taken to an army hospital but were declared brought dead. The fourth has been shifted to 92 Base hospital in Srinagar and he, too, is critical.”

According to the spokesman, there were six CRPF men in all at the spot, in groups of two. “Two groups were attacked but the third could not fire at the militants since children were playing cricket,” Tripathi said. “Two AK assault rifles of the dead jawans are missing.”

Police sources said the militants snatched the rifles. “The militants were armed with pistols and opened fire at the four jawans from point-blank range,” an official said.

Official sources identified the dead as head constables A.K. Upadai and E.P. Prabakar and constables S.S. Dass and Kuldeep Singh. Dass is from Bengal. The injured constable’s name is Krishna Kanhaiya. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Voluntary retirement by pilots of IAF


Around 101 pilots of IAF have applied for grant of Premature Retirement during the last one year. The broad reasons furnished by the applicants for grant of premature Retirement are Supersession, Lack of Career Progression, Medical/compassionate grounds etc. Such applications are considered on a case to case basis in accordance with extant Government policy and service exigencies. Concerted efforts are taken by the Indian Air Force to carry out a proactive publicity campaign to reach the target group across the country, such as (i) participation in career fairs and exhibitions to enhance one-to-one interaction; (ii) advertisement in print and electronic media including recruitment and career related articles; (iii) motivational lectures in schools/colleges; (iv) distribution of publicity material to target group; (v) visuals/signages at vantage points all over the country at strategic locations. The Short Service Commission for Flying branch has been modified to make men also eligible for induction in this branch. The implementation of the recommendations of VIth Central Pay Commission will also go a long way in attracting youth.

This information was given by Defence Minister Shri AK Antony in written reply to Smt Jaya Bachchan in Rajya Sabha today.

Not for glory, not for gold



A decade after guns boomed in Kargil, the top brass speak about whether things have changed for our men in uniform and what the future holds

It has been 10 years since the Indo-Pak Kargil war, which took place in 1999. Today, in 2009, as the year and decade rolls to a close, a number of experts analyse Indian defence and security.


Major General Seru Thapliyal (retired) was Brigadier at the Army headquarters in 1999 when Kargil happened. He was in charge of, what is called, perspective planning of the Kargil war.

Thapliyal believes that the government has failed to implement the suggestions of the Kargil Review Committ-ee (KRC).

He says, "A lack of implementation of the KRC report and lack of follow-up action has made the situation
worse than Kargil."

Roll on: When Bofors guns rolled into Kargil


1 Intelligence was a total failure in the Kargil war. The review committee had suggested that the intelligence
be made more accountable, but it was hardly taken into consideration.

26/11 is a recent example of that intelligence failure.

2 The committee suggested we have ground censors in frozen areas like Siachen. This has yet to be implemented.

No artillery guns have been purchased since 1987. Bofors was the last. Artillery is the backbone of the Army.

The review committee suggested that a Chief of Defense be appointed. That has still not been taken care of.

This is because politicians feel that doing so will make the defence forces more powerful and they might seize power one day.

Air Force

20th Air Chief Marshal Shashindra Pal Tyagi retired in 2007. His take is...


1 The number of fighter jets has gone down since Kargil, as we have grounded MIG 23s and MIG 25s, but have not purchased more jets. More  fighters and air defence are the basic requirements right now.

We have bought Sukhoi 30s and Hawk's trainers, but we need more to strengthen the Air Force.

We have grounded the basic trainer HPT 32, so we are short of trainers too. Improved since Kargil

1 Air-to-air refuelling aircraft available, training modules designed and introduced in a timely manner. The air defence radar, training syllabi and courses have been updated; flight safety records have also improved.

The Indian Air Force has held joint exercises with the US and European powers.

Since Kargil, the Air Force has been involved in disaster relief operations like post-Tsunami operations in Sri Lanka. The Air Force also played a major role in disaster relief within the country.

Tyagi signs off, saying, "One thing that the IAF can assure Indians is that the country is safe in the hands of the IAF."

Navy Manohar Nambiar, spokesperson, Indian Navy, says it has been a mixed bag for the Navy. 


1 Lots of international exposure for the Navy as a result of joint exercises with the naval forces of the US, UK, France, Germany and Russia.

There has been an introduction of marine front line ships, which is a positive development.

The number of war ships is more or less the same, but we are expecting Admiral Gorkshov (the biggest warship of the Indian Navy) from Russia in the coming years.

The Indian Navy has been operational in the anti-piracy drive in the Gulf of Aden.

Indian Military ready to fight China and Pakistan at the same time


Shimla-based Indian Army Training Command, headed by Lt-General A S Lamba is getting ready for something Indian Military never was ready before. Indian Air Force, Navy, and Army is ready to face Pakistan and China at the same time.

India’s 1.13-million strong Military is now panning to handle two major war fronts at the same time. India considers Pakistan and China as part of the same camp. India knows the next war will be between India and “Pakistan +China.” India will get indirect support from America and Russia, but Indian Military will have to fight the two war at the same time.

Indian Military has been training for the mini giant war against two nuclear powered nations at the same time. China has used Pakistan for a long time to keep India busy. Now time has come for India to recognize a massive threat from China and Pakistan at the same time.

Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor emphasizes that India is ready for a “the successful firming-up of the cold start strategy (to be able to go to war promptly) in the multiple fronts against multiple different militias at the same time.”

The plan is a full thrust assault into multiple anomies at the same time with massive Air Force superiority. If attacked by Pakistan and china at the same time, India will launch self-contained and highly-mobile `battle groups'', with Russian-origin T-90S tanks and upgraded T-72 M1 tanks at their core, adequately backed by far superior air cover and artillery fire assaults, for rapid thrusts into enemy territory within 96 hours.

India plans to end the war decisively within the first 96 hours forcing the other sides into a fast submission of ceasefire.

People’s Liberation Army is aware of the capacities of Indian Army and Air Force. It will be exactly opposite of 1962 war. That is why they are busy building massive infrastructure in the Indian border areas especially in Aksai Chin and Tibet.

he real war in that scenario will be between India and China while Pakistan will be used by China to create adequate disturbance for Indian Military.

That is the reason why Lt-General A S Lamba of Indian Army is so keen a massive thrust into Rawalpindi to quiet Pakistanis within 48 hours of the start of assault.

India’s biggest advantage is the its software capabilities in integrating signal intelligence with ground intelligence. India will use algorithmic seek and scan technology to counter the Chinese threats in the North and possible Pakistani nuclear threat in the West.

India is focused on integrating its Navy, Army and Air Force into an integrated command and Control system completely controlled and dominated by the superior software algorithms that can prove deadly in the war front.

Feud at the top in army


A full-fledged row has broken out in the military establishment between the two top generals of the Indian Army: the chief, General Deepak Kapoor, and his putative successor and the Eastern Command boss, Lt General V.K. Singh.
The row is the latest in a series of tensions that have been building up between the army chief and the eastern army commander who is the senior-most lieutenant general.
The latest round has been triggered by a court of inquiry convened by the eastern army commander who is based in Fort William in Calcutta. It has asked for the sacking of Kapoor’s principal staff officer (PSO) and military secretary, Lt Gen. Avadhesh Prakash, who may be forced to make a premature exit.
The chief has made an abortive attempt to defend his key aide. Kapoor told defence minister A.K. Antony that Lt Gen. Singh was taking an “undue interest” in the case.
The court of inquiry, presided over by Tezpur-based 4 Corps commander Lt Gen. K.T. Parnaik, had forwarded its findings to Lt Gen. Singh. Based on the findings and on consultations with the judge advocate general in his command, the eastern army commander recommended the “termination of services” of Lt Gen. Prakash because of his alleged involvement in a land scam in north Bengal.

The defence minister, who zealously guards his Mr Clean reputation, summoned the army chief on Christmas Eve and wanted Lt Gen. Prakash to be eased out. Gen. Kapoor demurred and defended his aide but Antony was not convinced. A source said the minister ‘cold-shouldered’ the army chief the next day when Gen. Kapoor met him to convey his Christmas greetings
Even as the report of the court of inquiry was being “studied and analysed”, another probe from the central command brought out “the involvement without blaming” of the military secretary in awarding a Rs 1.7-crore contract to a north Bengal-based realtor, Dilip Aggarwal.
A senior defence ministry source has given The Telegraph an account of the build-up and where the stand-off is now headed.
While this is at its nuts and bolts a narrative on corruption in the military and politics over promotions, it is above all indicative of a serious communication gap between army headquarters and the Eastern Command, a fully operational authority whose area of responsibility covers the maximum length of international borders (with China, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar). Its components are also actively involved in counter-insurgency.
After the report of the court of inquiry was hand-delivered from Calcutta at 9.30 on the morning of December 23, Wednesday, army chief Kapoor was summoned for an unscheduled meeting by Antony in his first-floor corner office in South Block that overlooks the expanse of India Gate and Boat Club lawns.

The Fort William boss had convened a court of inquiry that indicted Lt Gen. Prakash in the land case. Gen. Kapoor feels the eastern commander does not have the authority to summon the army chief’s principal staff officer. Lt Gen. V.K. Singh, whose age is caught in a discrepancy, was bypassed earlier for the post of vice-chief
The office is large enough to make the slightly built defence minister seem even more diminutive.
General Kapoor in his winter staff-duty olive green uniform with the gleaming four stars of his rank on his epaulettes marched from his chamber on the same floor to the corner office. He was ushered in and asked to sit across the polished mahogany desk from Antony.
The meeting in the afternoon of December 24 after Antony had flown back from Hyderabad lasted 40 minutes. The defence minister had seen the adverse media coverage over the military secretary.
The discussion was on the Eastern Command’s recommendation to “terminate the services” of Prakash over the alleged Rs 300-crore land scam in north Bengal.
Antony sought a summary of the investigation and the recommendations. He is believed to have suggested that the military secretary be prevailed upon to put in his papers to avoid further embarrassment to his ministry and the army. This should be done quickly because Lt Gen. Prakash is in any case due to retire at the end of January.
Gen. Kapoor, according to The Telegraph’s source, demurred and defended his PSO. He is understood to have explained to the defence minister that:
The Eastern Command under Lt Gen. Singh, who was the convening authority of the court of inquiry that has indicted the military secretary, has taken an “undue interest” in investigating Lt Gen. Prakash. The military secretary was called as a witness to the court and the eastern commander does not have authority to investigate him or recommend action against one of the eight principal staff officers to the chief in Army Headquarters in New Delhi.
It may be wiser, the chief is said to have suggested at first, to allow the military secretary to go quietly into retirement, in about a month’s time. Although Lt Gen. Prakash is due to retire on January 31, proceedings can continue even if he retires.
The army chief suggested that the recommendation to “terminate the services” — in other words, cashier or sack the military secretary — should be toned down to “administrative action” that could involve cutting his benefits but will not drape an officer with such a long career in ignominy.
Defence minister Antony, who takes pride in his Mr Clean image, was not convinced. He conveyed that Lt Gen. Prakash should be persuaded to put in his papers if he does not do so volun- tarily.
The following day, December 25, Gen. Kapoor visited the defence minister at his residence, ostensibly to wish him on Christmas. Staff at the defence minister’s residence expected the meeting to last about 30 minutes or so. But it ended after 10 minutes. “Cold-shouldered,” a staffer said.
What had happened was this: during the time of the first unscheduled meeting, the defence minister was apparently not well briefed on the second investigation in Lucknow by a major general.
That investigation indicted seven officers, including a major general, in the Ranikhet Kumaon Regimental Centre land scam. Military secretary Lt Gen. Prakash is the colonel commandant of the Kumaon Regiment (published by The Telegraph on December 26). It was a double whammy for the army chief and his principal aide.


As many as 126 Indian Revenue Service (Income Tax) officers have been granted non-functional up gradation in the higher administrative grade (67000+).

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

China spied on Dalai Lama in Tawang


In the ongoing game of one-upmanship being played between India and China, it now turns out that China had again intruded the Indian airspace. It sent an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) — also popularly called a drone - on a spying mission over Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh while the Dalai Lama was there for a religious visit in the first week of November.

Indian intelligence agencies immediately reported the sighting of a Chinese UAV, near Bumla, a few km north of the historic Buddhist Monastery at Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. Sources said, “A UAV entered the Indian airspace on November 9 from the Sela Pass and was headed (south) towards Bumla/ Tawang.” The time of sighting was around 6 pm.

The Dalai Lama started his week-long visit to the monastery on November 8.

The Sela pass, where the UAV was sighted, is the point where Indian and Chinese troops hold border meetings. It is lowest point in that valley in the lofty Himalayas. Both sides have permanent border patrols and observation posts there and every activity is watched.

A UAV is between 14 to 20 feet long. It is normally fitted with high-resolution cameras, thermal imagers and even “listening devises”. This one would also be carrying all this, otherwise why would China send it across, sources said. It could have been used to know how big were the crowds at the monastery or even intercept some communication over mobile or satellite phones. India could have brought it down, however, this would have caused an international furore amidst the Dalai Lama’s visit.

The spying mission of the UAV is the second major violation of the Indian airspace by China after an intrusion by its choppers over Ladakh in June. Earlier this month, Defence Minister AK Antony had informed Parliament that there had been 11 violations of Indian space between December last year and September this year. This included three violations by China and six by Pakistan. The recent one during the Dalai Lama’s visit was not mentioned as the question in Parliament related to the period ending September 30, 2009.

Just days before the Dalai Lama started his visit in November, China blamed New Delhi for trying to provoke Beijing by orchestrating the Tibetan spiritual leader “controversial visit” to Arunachal Pradesh. India has rubbished the allegation, but had advised the Indian armed forces not to provide any “logistical” help.

The field formations of the Army and the IAF were advised not to be seen facilitating the visit in any manner.

The visit of the spiritual leader to the Tawang monastery was important as it had been linked with Lhasa. Till the early 50s - or before the Chinese took over Tibet - the chief Lama of Tawang was appointed by the Drepung monastery in Lhasa.



change of command

Air Marshal, J Neri, is likely to take charge from Air Officer-in-Charge Maintenance (AOM) Air Marshal K M Rama Sundara, from February 2010.

BrahMos phase II: Deadline for land set


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The second phase development of BrahMos Aerospace Thiruvananthapuram Ltd (BATL) now hinges on a State Government promise to find the necessary land by March 31.``Last week, the government held a meeting and assured that necessary land will be found for the Airports Authority of India (AAI) by March 31. We hope everything will go smoothly,’’ BATL CEO and managing director and DRDO chief controller (R&D) Dr A. Sivathanu Pillai said on the sidelines of a function here on Saturday.For launching the second phase of the cruise missile programme, BATL had identified 7.15 acres of land adjacent to its Chakkai plant.This land belongs to the Indian Air Force (IAF). The IAF has, in principle, agreed to hand over the land, but on the condition that they be allotted land elsewhere. The IAF needs land to build accommodation for its personnel. The State Government’s plan is to acquire land near Chakkai for the Airport Authority of India (AAI) for the development of the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport and provide substitute land for the IAF there, so the latter can hand over its plot to BATL.``Unlike in other states, land is a big problem here. We understand that. But we are sure things will go smoothly,’’ said Sivathanu Pillai, who envisages a bigger role for Thiruvananthapuram and BATL once the Aerospace industry boom gets going in earnest.The BrahMos (an amalgam of Brahmaputra and Moskva) missile programme is a joint venture between India and Russia. When Brah- Mos Aerospace took over stateowned KELTE C in 2007, the promise was that the first missile will be rolled out from Thiruvananthapuram in three years’ time.

Be well planned for early retirement


The trend of retiring early is catching up, thanks to increasingly demanding working conditions and ample savings and investment avenues. The
emerging trend has also got a boost from the expansion in self employment opportunities in the services sector, which has emerged as the driver of the Indian economy.

Recently, around 101 Indian Air Force pilots applied for early retirement citing suppression, emotional and medical grounds as reasons for their untimely decision. This trend of getting retired early in life is not limited to government organisations but has spread to professionals working in the private sector as well.

So, how feasible is the idea of early retirement? Can an urban professional save and invest in a manner that will enable him to retire in mid-40s without fretting over the next payment of his home loan installment? While searching for an answer, we at ET Intelligence Group worked on various scenarios of income, savings and return on investments. Read on.

SCENARIOS: Every working professional has his own reason for seeking an early retirement. For some it’s the boredom of modern office that pushes them to consider it, for others it’s the calling of their passion that becomes irresistible after a time. However, dreams can’t be realised if not backed by resources. So, for our analysis, we built three scenarios of income or salary. They are further divided in three savings and investment style that yields vastly different corpus at the end of the planning horizon (see the chart below). For simplicity let’s assume that a professional starts his career at the age of 25, and he wishes to retire at the age of 45 from job.

The person will have to draw a savings-cum-investment strategy with a 20-year planning horizon. Fresh out of university and living on a shoe-string budget, means lower savings. But as he progresses in life and realises the responsibilities that lie ahead and the desire to retire early, he progressively increases his savings. We have assumed that in the first 10 years of the career he saves 25% of his savings and raises it to 40% by the time he turns 35. Further, we also assume that in the first period the salary increment is 20% p.a., which declines to 15% p.a. in the second half of the working life. The assumption is based on the belief that in the first few years of career, professionals usually do job hopping to improve their earning but later they tend to settle down in a comfortable job.

Now let’s divide professionals in two sets. First: who earns less per month but has no big-ticket financial burden such as home, education and car loans to repay. Second: Those professionals who draw bigger salaries but are saddled with financial commitments in the form of monthly installments toward at least one major loan. Let’s assume that a professional in the first case starts his career at the age of 25 with a monthly salary of Rs 20,000 per month. The second professional, however, is luckier and draws a salary of Rs 40,000 in his first, but higher income in turns induces him to buy a house on loan which comes with an EMI for 20 years.

THE EXPLOITS: The summary of the results of the calculation is shown in the adjoining chart. If say Mr A starts his career with a monthly income of Rs 20,000 and his income and savings grow as assumed above, his corpus would grow to Rs 4.6 crore at the end of 20th year, i.e., when the person turns 45. The calculation is, however, based on the assumption that the person takes risk and invests in riskier but rewarding assets, such as, equity. In case he sticks to traditional investment avenues, which yield annualised returns of 8%, the corpus would be Rs 2.4 crore at the end of 20th year.

Explosion in firing range, two jawans dead


Two jawans were killed and an equal number injured today in an explosion that took place when ammunition of the Indian Air Force was being unloaded from a truck inside a firing range, 45-km from here.

The ammunition was brought from Gujarat for disposal at the Chandan firing range, Defence Public Relations Officer Lt Col N N Josh said.

He said the blast occurred when the ammunition was being off-loaded from the truck.

The injured were admitted to hospital, Josh said.

10 IAF choppers for rebel combat



The Centre will deploy a fleet of 10 Indian Air Force helicopters in its impending anti-Maoist offensive.

The helicopters, which will be armed, will reinforce the offensive by 80,000 central paramilitary troops to be entrusted with the task of clearing out Naxalite strongholds across five states — Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh.

The choppers will be stationed at different locations like Ranchi in Jharkhand and Raipur in Chhattisgarh.

“The helicopters will be used for dropping commandos and casualty evacuation purposes. They will be at the disposal of the commander of the operations at Raipur (Chhattisgarh),” said Central Reserve Police Force director-general A.S. Gill.

The move to deploy IAF helicopters comes after the defence ministry gave the go-ahead to the IAF to open fire in self-defence if its aircraft were targeted by Maoist rebels.

On October 1, Air Chief Marshal Pradeep Vasant Naik had said the IAF had sought permission from the defence ministry to open fire if its aircraft were fired at by the Maoists.

The defence ministry’s clarification on the subject had given the IAF the authority to arm Mi-17 helicopters that are being used in counter-Maoist operations.

The IAF had sought the permission after two incidents where suspected Maoists had fired at IAF helicopters in Chhattisgarh and Gadchiroli in Maharashtra.

Apart from the IAF helicopters, three Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters, inducted into the Border Security Force’s air wing, have been already been stationed at Ranchi and Raipur.

To bring down casualties, the CRPF has contracted 80 doctors for the duration of the anti-Naxalite operation. The forces will also have access to GPS devices and satellite imagery of the jungles.

Central paramilitary forces like the CRPF, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the BSF have been stationed across Naxalite-infested areas. They will work under a single command.

Home minister P. Chidambaram had last week reviewed the preparedness of the five states in launching the operation. The home ministry, which had delayed the operations because of the Jharkhand elections, is now busy fine-tuning its strategy.






"....the official said, adding that the model is also followed in the Indian Army. Currently, a retiring havaldar gets the rank of honorary lieutenant, but is given no additional pension benefits, the official added...."


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thank You Major Navdeep

Dear Readers,

1. I have always been a firm supporter of de-linking Rank and Grade Pays. As this is the route cause of all our problems.

2. I am happy to note that Maj Navdeep Singh has very logically given out his views on this issue and I fully agree with him.

3. Thank You Major Navdeep for this excellent writeup.

4. We all must read it. The links are :  


Officers of 1997 Batch of Indian Forest Service (IFS) have been given Selection Grade (PB-4) with Grade Pay 8700/-  in Haryana.

Navy sends SOS on ageing submarines

New Delhi, Dec. 22: A top body in the military establishment went into a huddle today after the Indian Navy sounded an “SOS” — save our submarine fleet.

The navy has 16 submarines that are being retired faster than they can be replaced. The worry over the fast depleting submarine fleet occupied mindspace among the defence ministry’s top officials on the eve of President Pratibha Patil’s visit to INS Viraat, the navy’s aircraft carrier and flagship.

The carrier itself is more than 50 years old and is an example of how the navy has to operate its vessels through continuous refits. The Viraat resumed service only last month after being in the dry docks for two years.

Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Nirmal Verma goaded the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) led by defence minister A.K. Antony to meet today after telling it that the submarine fleet of 16 vessels would be nearly halved in five years unless the Centre cleared a proposal for a new line. The proposal has been pending for more than six years.

The second line of six submarines could cost nearly Rs 30,000 crore. A 30-year submarine building and acquisitions programme, of which Project 75A is a part, was cleared by the cabinet committee on security in 1999.

The first step towards the second line of submarines is to identify a shipyard. Repeated pleas from the navy, by Admiral Verma’s predecessors Admirals (now retired) Madhvendra Singh, Arun Prakash and Sureesh Mehta, were not enough for the defence ministry to act.

But the state of the navy’s submarine fleet is now “time critical” because the latest submarine building project — six Scorpenes being built in France and India by DCN Thales — has got delayed by at least two years and the first is unlikely to be commissioned before 2013.

By that time, two Foxtrot class submarines, nearly 40 years old, would be retired and the early ones of the Kilo and HDW class would also be decommissioned despite refits to extend their lifespan.

Today’s meeting was on till late evening and a defence ministry official said it was unlikely to be conclusive. The navy wants a shipyard to be identified on the basis of experience and competence of the workers – only Mazagaon Docks in Mumbai and Hindustan Shipyard in Visakhapatnam qualify on those grounds.

But private company Larsen and Toubro, which is building a shipyard near Chennai and has collaborated in the INS Arihant nuclear submarine, has said it is also bidding for the second line. Also in contention are Kochi and Garden Reach Shipbuilders. The navy believes a yard for submarines can be built in Calcutta even if it is a riverine port.

Only after the shipyard has been identified will it be authorised to enter into collaboration with foreign submarine builders because India accepts that it does not have the knowhow.

Requests for Information to submarine builders Armaris (France), Navantia (Spain), Rubin (Russia), HDW (Germany) and Kockums (Sweden) have been sent.

Worried over the health of its submarine fleet, the navy sought an agreement with the US in 2005 for a “humanitarian” arrangement to rescue the crew of an Indian submarine if it is in distress. India paid $100,000 upfront for the services of a US Deep Submersible Rescue Vehicle (DSRV).

The agreement envisages that the US navy will fly a DSRV and ‘flyaway kit’ to Mumbai or Chennai within 48 hours after being alerted to an Indian submarine in distress.

Why India can’t be successful against Maoists


Indian policy makers have tried various combinations in the past to tackle Maoists problem but failed miserably. A couple of more combinations are under consideration to handle the problem amicably. In a new strategy ‘A New Game,’ the Indian government in ‘Stage-I’ has again rolled the dice on the table in the shape of proposal for a separate state of Telangana. The Indian policy makers believe that once the dice would gain momentum it is likely to attract more state to demand for state status under Indian union. Indian leaders like Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad opposed the movement to initiate a separate state of Telangana due to fear that it could lead to many other divisions. Despite opposition it seen that for the time being the Centre is going ahead with to tackle with insurgency stricken states.

As a ‘Stage-II’ of this strategy, offensive has been launched against the Maoists in Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra by Para Military Forces (PMF). If successful, similar operations are likely to be carried out in Jharkhand and Orissa. This would be followed by the replication of this strategy in the other insurgency stricken states. After the failure of talks and Maoists refusal to give up arms, the Indian government decided to simultaneously start the operations in four worst-affected states: Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa but it was altered the plan in ‘Stage-II’ due to fears of tuff resistance from Maoists and heavy causalities on the side of Indian security forces. At present small scale operation has been started in parts of Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, and Manpur in Rajnandgaon, Chhattisgarh by Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Border Security Force (BSF) personnel.

It is pertinent to mention here that India’s claim that it deployed around 27000 CRPF personnel in Gadchiroli in the month of October and November 2009 appears bogy as so far they have not participated in any operation. As per the official claims around 45,000 personnel from CRPF, BSF and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) posted to Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra while another 25000 personnel are to be deployed in Jharkhand and Orissa in ‘Stage III,’ sometime after the elections are over at Jharkhand. However, as per BSF sources at Chhattisgarh, the official figures of PMF quoted by Union Home Ministry is an eye wash and highly exaggerated as the deployment suppose to reach their location from Jammu & Kashmir state have not yet started its move. The Indian propaganda regarding reduction of 30000 troops in held Jammu & Kashmir state and their deployment in Maoist affected areas is aimed to impress upon international community that it has no nefarious designs against Pakistan. However, it is an open secret that the move aims at getting rid of PMF from Jammu & Kashmir and substituting them with regular Army troops.

In fact, if we analyze from a critical angle, most of the demands Maoists seems to be genuine but the each time talks are to be held, they are asked to put down their arms in a humiliating manner. Those groups who are engaged in talks are projected as if they have surrendered before the Indian security forces. In certain cases Naxals who agreed to hold talks were either arrested by Indian intelligence agencies or killed in fake encounters.

Above all, the behaviour of Indian Army and PMF with Maoists is humiliating and torturous. As regard, to ongoing operations, the PMF commanders, who are participating in the operations or have been earmarked for the same, feel handicapped because of seven reasons: 1) Majority of PMF Battalions have been pulled out from areas like Jammu & Kashmir state where operations take place in residential and public areas, whereas Maoists are confined in Jungle areas, 2) The PMF personnel do not possess experience in jungle warfare, 3) The PMF personnel lack knowledge of terrain and the forest routes, 4) Maoists have backing of local population while PMF personnel experiences lack of cooperation from locals and 5) The intelligence agencies and Field Intelligence Units do not have sources among Maoists, 6) The area is full of landmines and explosives which cannot be cleared overnight and 7) The morale of PMF personnel is not very high as military units deployed in the area are avoiding operations. India cannot be successful in any move against Maoists unless New Delhi changes its policies of Imperialists and Capitalists, which they inherited from the out going British. India must accept that unlike Pakistan which was created on Islamic ideology, India is a subcontinent comprising of many nationalities. The basic aim of the operation should be to clear the landmines and compel the Naxal-groups to come to the negotiating table rather than eliminate them. Any operation to compel the Maoist to hold talks with centre would not be successful unless there is a joint working and ground coordination between PMF, Police and Indian Army takes place.

There is also a requirement for Indian forces to be considerate towards Maoist as they too are Indian nationals who have right to be heard. Human right excess, torture, man slaughters and bans are not going to work even all the Corps of Indian Army with most modern weaponry are deployed in Naxal affected states. Talks and development in the area through local representation is the only answer to the Naxals problem.

9 die in Kota bridge collapse, 45 still missing

In a tragic accident in Rajasthan on Thursday nine workers died and many were injured after an under-construction hanging bridge on the Chambal river collapsed.

More than 24 hours after an under-construction bridge collapsed in Kota, nearly 45 migrant workers are still missing.

Personnel of the Indian Army and local administration are battling on with their rescue mission.

But chances of the trapped workers' surviving are getting slimmer by the hour as the bridge was being built over a river.

"We are worried about the rescue operation as the river is very deep. When the operation is successful, families can come to claim the bodies," said Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

Gammon India, that was behind the Metro bridge that collapsed in Delhi earlier this year, was building the bridge.

Gammon India along with Hyundai was to complete the bridge, being built at a cost of Rs 225 crore, by 2011.

Two officials of Gammon India and Hyundai have now been arrested for causing death due to criminal negligence.

Meanwhile, the politics over the accident has already begun.

"The government cannot shrug off responsibility for the incident. It should have kept tabs on how the work was going on. They should not have given permission to a company with a record of accidents to build the bridge," said former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje.

The Rajasthan government has constituted a three-member committee to look into the matter.

While the Centre has announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the families of the dead to be given by the contractor companies, the state government has also announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the families of the dead and Rs 1 lakh for those injured.

UN appoints former top Indian Commander as envoy to Sudan

The UN Secretary-General has appointed a former top Indian Army commander, who has served with the world body's peacekeeping forces in Africa, as his special envoy for Sudan.

Ban Ki-moon has appointed Lieutenant General (retired) Jasbir Singh Lidder, who has served as the Additional Director General of Military Operations in the Indian Army, as his Deputy Special Representative for Sudan.

Lidder has extensive experience of working in peacekeeping mission in Africa, including in Sudan as the force commander of the UN Mission to Sudan (UNMIS) and as Chief of Staff in the military component of the UN Operation in Mozambique (ONUMOZ) in the mid-1990s.

Lidder also assisted in conflict-resolution activities and the protection of civilians in the Darfur conflict where he played a key role in the transition from the African Union Mission to Sudan (AMIS) to the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), according to the UN.

Born in 1949, Lidder attended the National Defence Academy as well as the Army War College where he procured two masters degrees in philosophy in defence studies and management and another in defence and strategic studies, it said.


Right thinking

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram’s suggestion to bifurcate the Union home ministry in order to streamline security and intelligence functions is a welcome move. He has mooted a proposal to hive off those departments in the ministry related to intelligence and security functions from the non-security related ones like Centre-state relations, freedom fighters, etc. Chidambaram’s thinking is that today with security threats emanating from Left wing extremism, besides externally-fostered internal security problems, the home minister needs to devote his entire attention to national security related issues. A major problem that plagues the country’s security bureaucracy is the multiplicity of intelligence agencies without effective inter-agency channels to ensure intelligence sharing.

In the existing security architecture, the Joint Intelligence Committee, which is now part of the National Security Council secretariat, and the Multi Agency Centre are both designed to serve as platforms to collate intelligence from different agencies. Yet systemic flaws in the security architecture did not prevent the dastardly 26/11 disaster. Apart from the two principal intelligence agencies tasked with internal and external security, the Intelligence Bureau and the Research & Analysis Wing, there are several lesser known intelligence outfits. These include the ‘G’ branches of the central para-military forces like the BSF and CRPF besides the 800-strong intelligence arm of the Railway Protection Force. The problem is that the diversity of intelligence agencies leads to turf wars and eventually results in compromising national security interests.

Appropriate use of these intelligence organisations — with a suitable mechanism such as a proposed National Counter Terrorism Centre, modelled along the lines of the US Department of Home Land Security — can make a significant difference in the on-going war against terrorism.

Chidambaram is the first home minister who can take credit for starting a public debate about coping with terrorism. The challenge of creating a National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) arises considering the various intelligence organisations tackling terrorism are scattered among the PMO, the Cabinet secretariat, the defence and finance ministries. Bringing together these diverse units under one roof, given the realities of bureaucratic inertia and resistance to change will not be easy. Also the status of the NCTC chief vis a vis the National Security Adviser and Director IB and Secretary R&AW will be tricky issues that need to be figured out clearly to ensure its harmonious functioning.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Engineers in uniform face greater challenges’


LT Gen Arun Kumar Nanda, engineer-in-chief of the Indian Army, called on the graduates at the College of Military Engineering (CME) here to keep their technical skills top-notch.

Engineers in uniform, he said, would face greater challenges than engineers in civil life as they would have to be good engineers and good soldiers. “The need of the hour is to use cutting-edge technologies which are best suited to meet our requirements,” Nanda said.

He was speaking at the scroll presentation ceremony at the CME where 41 officers of the 99th batch of the Engineer Officers Degree Engineering and 12 officers of the Technical Entry Scheme were awarded their degrees.

Nanda said that historically the Indian Army had left an indelible mark on national projects. He cited the example of the bailey suspension bridge at base camp in siachen glacier, oil pipeline at siachen glacier, roorkee canal, and the road to khardungla pass. “In the present-day knowledge based society, only those who cultivate the habit of constantly updating their skill shall emerge successful. As the economy grows , aspirations of users who are primarily from the defence forces, both in combat engineering and the works environment, will go up,” Nanda said.

Nine rebels 'killed' in Manipur

Army officials said the rebels belonged to two different groups.

Six of those belonged to the Peoples Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (Prepak) and three were members of the Kanglei Yana Kan Lup (KYKL).

Manipur is home to nearly a dozen rebel groups - some fighting for the state's independence from India.

Others are fighting for tribal homeland they want carved out of the state.

Officials said the army raided two Prepak hideouts near the remote villages of Singheu and Laiboldung in Manipur's eastern Chandel district .

"After encircling the Prepak hideouts late at night, the army attacked at first light. The rebels were taken by surprised and many were killed," military spokesman RK Palta said.

He said another military platoon launched a similar attack on a Kykl base at Chirikhunao in the state's central district of Thoubal .

The army says that troops have now fanned out around these bases to hunt down other rebels who fled after the encounters, leaving their dead comrades behind.

Mr Palta said that some weapons and large quantity of ammunitions and explosives were recovered from the sites of the encounters.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Army’s Subculture in the Coming Decade


A decade is long enough to leave an imprint of change on any institution, including those generally regarded as conservative, such as the army. While informed commentary is plenty on the operational and technological environment, there is little on the cultural aspect. This article dwells on the challenges and likely changes in the Indian Army’s subculture as it navigates the coming decade.

The changes in equipment profile through impending acquisitions, organisational expansion in terms of inducting a mountain strike corps, technological absorption of net centricity, and doctrinal innovation reflected in the army’s doctrine, would all no doubt continue in the coming decade. The problems that remain would continue to attract attention, such as assimilating the impact of nuclearisation on warfighting; furthering jointness; competing for bureaucratic space, etc. However, despite the importance of these issues, the major change would instead be in the sphere of military subculture.

Even as the military as a social entity has witnessed considerable change since liberalisation, such as induction of women officers into the army, it has retained its distinct identity. But this is likely to come under assault from changes occurring within society which are predicted to speed up considerably over the coming decade. The conclusion therefore is that the army would do well to be forewarned and therefore proactive, instead of being defensive and buffeted by these changes.

The Army’s record of coping with change has been impressive so far. Each of the preceding decades since Independence has left a mark. The fifties witnessed the development of the remarkable apolitical character of the Army, for which General Cariappa was retrospectively elevated to Field Marshal. To the sixties can be dated the Army’s professionalism. This flowed from the army’s expansion, particularly in emergency commission into the officer cadre, the passing on by decade end of the reins of the army to IMA-commissioned officers, and the learning experience of a loss and a draw in two wars. These changes resulted in the triumph of 1971, but which in its wake left the remainder of the decade look like a jaded anticlimax. The transformation through the eighties has been possibly the greatest change in a single decade. The main features were mechanisation and, secondly, a greater willingness to use force, be it conventionally in Siachen, subconventionally in Punjab, in out-of-area operations in Sri Lanka, or in exercises such as Digvijay and Brasstacks. In the nineties, the army was only ‘officially at peace’, to quote a Chief of the period, and by decade end had fought what may yet turn out as the first limited war of the nuclear era. Coming to terms early with the changed context, the first decade of this millennium has been one of doctrinal and organisational adaptation.

The coming decade bears comparison with the sixties and eighties; decades that saw expansion in the midst of social change. Lessons from the responses in both instances may prove useful. Traditional military anticipation, caution and preparation should help meet the challenge of the onrushing decade.
The changing social landscape will impact the army. The most significant aspect is that the promise of liberalisation has ensured high economic growth. This has been transformational for India, evident from changes in entrepreneurial energy, political concerns, aspirations, and shifts in the urban and rural landscape, youth attitudes and social mores. India is looking to leverage the demographic dividend of its youthful profile to gain great power status over the decade.

The army has been responsive to these developments. It has taken steps such as catering to higher aspirations by implementing the A.V. Singh committee proposals and insisting on a fair pay commission package for its members and veterans. With higher budgets, its cantonments have the look of modern townships and there are additional married quarters. The format for interaction with the soldiery has changed over the last decade. It is more attuned to self-esteem needs, reflected in institutes such as NCO Clubs, Sainik Institutes and conduct of functions like Sainik Sammelans and Barakhanas. Thinking on how to manage the marital relationships better is ongoing, particularly with the profile of the Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA) coming under judicial scrutiny over the last decade.

The direction of the future is in moving from authoritarian to a democratic leadership model; privileging and respecting specialisation; preserving institutionalism in the face of an expanding occupational ethic; and remaining in sync with changes in society. Some areas that require intervention are highlighted here.

Firstly, societal queries about the ‘peace dividend’ are likely to arise. Even as the region is currently unstable, it is possible that with increasing prosperity society would move towards a ‘war less’ one as obtains in developed states. And it would not like to put its economic gains at military risk. The long awaited ‘trickle down’ effect may catch on, plateauing out India’s insurgencies. With the precedent set by Op Green Hunt of increased reliance on central police forces for internal problems, the military would be able to concentrate on its core functions. The manner in which the border is currently being held is also likely to end. The implications for the army are that it would be nudged from ‘war readiness’ to a ‘war deterrent’ state. This would mean downsizing, increasing manpower efficiencies, higher per capita manpower costs, a ‘capability’ as opposed to a ‘threat’ based force, and a shift in the internal balance away from the infantry and armoured corps.

Secondly, recruitment could prove a site for competition, particularly given increasing self-selection to the soldier’s occupation by hitherto under-represented regions and communities. Increasing revenue budgets imply greater transfers through the pay cheque into local economies. The army would need technology savvy manpower, perhaps from urban centres. The regimental system may get a rethink. Communities traditionally providing manpower may not continue to be the source of recruitment. The controversy over the Sachar Committee’s query on army recruiting figures of Muslims prefigures a possible future. Instead of affirmative action, information strategies bringing the army as an employment opportunity to such sections is desirable.

Thirdly, increasing representation of women in the officer corps, to handle technology intensive armament and management functions would heighten quality. Their average qualifications are of a higher threshold than those of male candidate applicants. The jobs that they can tenant in the future army are many. This implies that the glass ceiling may be pushed upwards, as elsewhere in all modern armies. The present restriction of fourteen years service, based as it is on the army’s ambivalence on whether a woman officer should tenant command appointments as colonels, would require review. This aspect would clash with the army’s intended switch to an officer profile in which the NDA officer is in for the long haul, while the short service commission would exit at mid-career level.

Universally, armies have a conservative social orientation. In this perspective, ferment in society is seen negatively, reinforcing a tendency for preserving the martial space from intrusion from without. Insularity has its underside. The antidote is openness. The army trying to hull-down as an anachronistic island of social conservatism would render it susceptible to political forces that similarly look askance at change. Also, the privilege system may require review in light of better emoluments. Lifestyle changes that do not rely on soldiery furnishing officer privileges need to be instituted, top-down. The suggested parameter for non-operational tasks is that manpower be employed only for tasks in which the benefit directly accrues to them. The traditional, paternalistic, relationship with the soldiery has changed for a transactional style in the technical arms. This is inevitable in the fighting arms too. Presently, there is considerable scope for exercising a personalised leadership model. This creates dissonance in subordinates. An institutionalized style needs to be encouraged, so that there is a reasonable predictability in senior-subordinate relationships.

The sister services are ahead in this regard and their experience have a few lessons. The fresh winds from peacekeeping duties and from the expanded and multifarious experience on military exercises with foreign armies need to be harvested. Army War College in conjunction with College of Defence Management could act as a resource centre for the direction and design of cultural change. It could answer the question as to how a warrior ethic can be nurtured even as shifts occur towards a managerial style. The primary instrument for building the constituency for change would be the military education system. A review of how this could be best used can form part of the study. The study leave system could be so directed as to tap the thinking in corporate schools and technology management institutions. A higher leadership that has a greater proportion of soldier-scholars may be useful in managing the change.

The usual disdain of the tumult in civil society, fashionable in military circles, needs to be tempered. The ongoing RMA in slow motion can only complete itself in a contemporaneous army, and the army would have to make a conscious effort to remain so

Firing at border Pak's ploy to push in terrorists


There have been three ceasefire violations in the last three days along the International Border with Pakistan firing on Indian border posts in the Samba sector once again on Monday night and Tuesday morning.

At dawn Border Security Force personnel conducted a search operation along the International Border in Jammu after their post came under fire from machine guns and automatic rifles from across the border.

The firing continued until early Tuesday morning before dying out.

Sources say that a group of around 12-14 terrorists of Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba are in the area where BSF DIG OP Tanwar was killed on November 16.

The firing incidents bore all the hallmarks of the familiar Pakistani operation to push in as many terrorists as possible into India before the winter makes movement difficult.

"The terrorists are desperate to infiltrate. Arms and ammunition seized have signs of Pakistani involvement," said Jammu and Kashmir DGP Kuldeep Khuda.

Experts have also warned that the stakes for India are much higher this time.

With 25 border incidents recorded until November in Jammu alone experts say Pakistan hopes to raise the temperature on the border with India and use that to justify its refusal to the Americans to begin operations against al-Qaeda elements in North Waziristan.

"It fits into the pattern of telling the Americans and the world that there are tensions on the border. But we should not fall into the trap of the Pakistanis and deal with each incident as it comes," former high commissioner to Pakistan G Parthasarathy said.

The incidents also help Indian Army give the impression that rogue elements within Pakistan are trying to provoke a confrontation with India.

The Americans, therefore, should not pressure Pakistan too much to crackdown on Taliban and other terror groups. If they do so the fabled unity of the Pakistani Army could begin to crack.

Sack Military Secy, says Army court of inquiry into land scam


An Army inquiry into the Darjeeling land scam, first reported by The Indian Express, has recommended “termination of services” of Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash, Military Secretary at Army HQ and one of the seniormost Generals, and court martial proceedings against Lt Gen P K Rath whose appointment as Deputy Chief of Army Staff was later scrapped by the Ministry of Defence. 

The inquiry also favoured disciplinary action and court martial against Major General P Sen and administrative action against 

Lt Gen Ramesh Halgali, currently commanding the 11 Corps. A separate inquiry has also been recommended against a Colonel of the legal department for giving dubious advice regarding the land deal.
The inquiry found that Prakash was in constant touch with a Siliguri real estate developer, Dilip Agarwal, who brokered a controversial land deal in Darjeeling.

Prachanda blames India for Nepal's political crisis


KATHMANDU: Wrapping up a three-day nationwide general strike at a victory rally in the capital Tuesday, Nepal’s Maoist supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda warned it was also the announcement of a fourth protest movement against the government that would culminate in an indefinite general strike from Jan 24.

In the past, the Maoists had enforced a 15-day blockade during the 10-year “People’s War” and a 19-day peaceful general shutdown in 2006 as part of the pro-democracy movement against King Gyanendra’s attempt to rule the country with the help of the army. Prachanda said the new protests would start from Christmas Day as a mass awareness campaign to open people’s eyes to the presence of “foreign agents” in their midst. He also said the campaign would expose the corrupt indicted in the Rayamajhi Commission that was formed after the fall of the royal regime. Though the commission was formed to punish the perpetrators of the anti-people coup, including the king, its report was never made public.

The nearly two-hour rally in Naya Baneshwor - that was the site of violent clashes between protesters and security forces Sunday - saw Prachanda, for the first time throwing a direct challenge to India, accusing it of naked intervention in Nepal’s internal matters. “I held talks with the Nepali Congress (NC) leaders but they produced no result,” the former revolutionary said with biting sarcasm. “I held talks with the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), the Prime Minister... But none produced results. Now I have to go to Delhi for talks.”

Prachanda reminded his audience that in the years after 2002, when King Gyanendra had sacked Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and propped up three successive governments of his own choosing, the then governments had asked the underground Maoists to declare a ceasefire and start dialogue. “But we had refused, saying we will not negotiate with the servants,” he said. “We said we will talk only with the master. It is now time to say the same thing.”

The Maoist chief alleged that New Delhi had propped up Nepal’s coalition government, which was a “puppet” and a “robot” in its hands. When Nepali Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal returned from the UN climate summit in Copenhagen, Prachanda said the government did not project Nepal’s interests abroad but only tried to project that Indian premier Manmohan Singh had expressed his support for it as well as the Chinese government. “The Maoists are not NC or UML,” he said. “Treat the Maoists as Maoists.”

The new Maoist anger with New Delhi was stoked afresh last week after Nepal’s army chief Gen Chhatraman Singh Gurung went to India at the invitation of the Indian Army chief, Gen Deepak Kapoor, to receive the traditional honour of being declared general of the Indian Army by Indian President Pratibha Patil.

During the visit, at a banquet hosted by the Nepali general, Gen Kapoor was reported as saying that he opposed the merger of the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army with the Nepal Army as that would lead to the politicisation of the latter. “The comprehensive peace agreement (that ended the Maoist insurgency in 2006) promises the integration,” Prachanda said. “Kapoor's statement was a naked intervention in Nepal’s internal matters and yet the corrupt ministers of the current government remained silent.”

Prachanda said that at a time his party was striving to restore civilian supremacy in Nepal by campaigning against the President, Dr Ram Baran Yadav, who had resurrected the possibility of another military coup by preventing his government from sacking the insubordinate army chief, it was clear that civilian supremacy was actually murdered in New Delhi.

The Maoists have laid down a five-point agenda for their talks with India. They have also announced a month-long campaign from Dec 25, after which, they have warned of an indefinite nationwide general strike from Jan 24.

Maoist agenda for talks with India

- All unequal treaties should be scrapped, including the 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty; all secret treaties have to be revealed

- All border disputes have to be resolved; India has to recall troops from Nepal’s Kalapani area

- Trade deficit with India has to be corrected

- India should enact prompt strategy to make Nepal gain from being sandwiched between the world’s two fastest growing economies

- India has to accept Nepal as an equal state.

Orissa war veteran fights a lonely battle

ROURKELA: Former soldier Shivaram Behera (73) has survived three wars. But the army veteran's battle for government land has become the toughest fight of his life.

Behera, who joined the army on August 1, 1957, took part in the Indian offensive against Chinese aggression in 1962 and the Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971. After retiring from the army in 1972, he had applied for the government's provision for five acres of land for ex-servicemen. It's almost 37 years now, but Behera is yet to get his due.

"I have been running from one government office to another ever since I retired, but no luck. Once I was proud of having served my country. But I am a disappointed man today because nobody acknowledges my contribution and I struggle hard to get my due," said Behera, who joined a local bank as a security guard after his retirement. "I have two daughters, who I have to marry off. But I do not have enough money for that. I'm virtually living like a beggar in a local slum," he added.

For his outstanding service, Behera was conferred with several medals such as Pashim Star, Sangram Medal, 25th Indian Army Medal and SS Medal (J&K). "They don't hold any value for me today," he said.

After a lot of pleading, the under secretary in the state government's revenue and disaster management had written to the Sundergarh collector to consider my case on priority basis. This was in December 2007. The Sundergarh ADM had referred the matter to the local tehsildar on August 2009. "But nothing tangible has come out of it so far," the ex-serviceman said.

"More than being deprived from getting justice, the fact which pinches me most is the behaviour of government officials. The officials never even bothered to offer me a chair even after knowing that I have fought in three wars for the country," Behera said. "Probably, God and soldiers are remembered only in the times of crisis and forgotten once it's over," he added.

But like a true soldier, Behera has decided to fight till the last. "Although I feel tired now, I still hope to get the land before my death so that my family members can have something to bank upon," he said.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Israel defence links grow


A high-level team from the Israel defence establishment will hold talks here tomorrow with Indian military and security officials on missile shield, cyber warfare and electronic surveillance as they chart the course for bilateral military ties over the next two years.
Neither New Delhi nor Tel Aviv advertises the intensity of their defence relationship, but the frequency of visits and booming arms sales by Israel are evidence of how robust the ties are.

This is the second visit by a high-level Israeli military team to India this month. The chief of the Israeli defence forces, Lt General Gabi Ashkenazi, visited Delhi in the second week of December.
Earlier in November, India’s chief of army staff and the chairman, chiefs of staff committee, General Deepak Kapoor, had visited Israel.

The Israeli delegation to tomorrow’s meeting of a joint working group on defence co-operation will be led by Brigadier General (retired) Pinchas Buchris, the director general in Tel Aviv’s defence ministry. Buchris last visited India in January 2008.The Indian side will be led by defence secretary Praveen Kumar.

Buchris is likely to step down in January following an offer to resign amid a row over appointments with Israel defence minister and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

For nearly three years now, Buchris has been overseeing Israel’s defence relationship with India, Tel Aviv’s biggest buyer of arms, ammunition and security systems. Israel’s military sales to India in the last five years have topped $5 billion.

The sales could, however, be affected because of a ban on trading with Israeli Military Industries (IMI), which supplies special forces equipment and has joint ventures with India’s Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) to manufacture ammunition. The ban was imposed pending investigation into charges that the Israel government-owned firm was close to the former chief of the OFB who was arrested on charges of accepting bribes.

The issue of the blacklisting of the IMI is likely to figure in the talks because not only is it affecting sales, it could also be counter-productive for the Indian military that uses Israeli military hardware in large measure.

Also on the table for discussions are a joint venture between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Israel Aircraft Industries to co-produce a long-range surface-to-air missile for the Indian Navy and a medium-range surface-to-air missile for the Indian Air Force.

The initial cost of the long-range missile project is estimated to be over Rs 2,600 crore and that of the medium-range project nearly Rs 11,000 crore.

Buchris is scheduled to meet defence minister A.K. Antony, national security adviser M.K. Narayanan, the chiefs of the armed forces and DRDO chief V.K. Saraswat, who is also the scientific adviser to the defence minister.

2009 marks turning point in Indo-Russian ties


The year 2009 proved to be a turning point in the ties between India and Russia as the two strategic allies put aside the chill and 'misunderstandings' to re-discover each other in the changing global scenario and extended their defence cooperation for another decade.

Though western nations, mainly the US, is trying hard to enter India's multi-billion dollar lucrative arms market, the long-standing ties between New Delhi and Moscow are standing the test of time with India concluding a key deal this month to buy more Russian nuclear reactors.

High profile visits of President Pratibha Patil in September followed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in December and their parleys with the top Russian leadership put the relations back on track, derailed by what was seen in Moscow as New Delhi's pro-US tilt.

By signing an umbrella civilian nuclear deal and inter-governmental agreement during Singh's visit to extend the long-term India-Russia Military-Technical Cooperation Programme by another 10 years till 2020, New Delhi has given a 'political signal' that Moscow will remain its key strategic partner as in the past, sources in the PMO said.

Since November 2007, when Singh visited Russia for the annual bilateral summit towards the end of the then President Vladimir Putin's term, the relations, time-tested in the past, were clouded by the pricing of aircraft carrier Gorshkov and seemed to be heading nowhere.

Even President Dmitry Medvedev's maiden India visit in December 2008, cut short by one day due to demise of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, failed to melt the ice of Moscow's suspicion about New Delhi's 'drift' towards Washington in the wake of the nuclear deal signed during the Bush Administration.

The 'Year of India in Russia' was also celebrated in 2009 after the success of the 'Year of Russia in India' in 2008.

The brainchild of the erstwhile President Putin, the year long cultural fests of the two countries in India and Russia, were projected to invoke the force of people's diplomacy to rejuvenate the traditional ties, by involving the younger generations of the two countries.

In the second innings of the UPA Government, Prime Minister Singh undertook his first foreign visit to Russia in June to attend the summits of BRIC and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Yekaterinburg and gave a signal of special importance India attaches to its relations with Russia.

According to Tatiana Shaumyan, Director of Centre of Indian Studies of the Oriental Institute of the Russian Science Academy, the Kremlin did not fail to notice Singh's gesture, which to a great extent dispersed the 'India falling into the lap of Americans notion widely subscribed in Russia'.

However, the ice of 'misunderstandings' in the bilateral ties was finally broke by President Patil when she visited in Moscow in early September.

Sahumyan said: "Although in the Indian political system, role of the President is considered to be mostly ceremonial, but this wont be true in case of President Pratibha Patil, who perhaps played a key role in re-introducing the traditional warmth in bilateral relations through her personal 'charm' by mesmerising Medvedev and Putin."

During her Russia visit, President Patil managed to reassure the ruling Kremlin tandem that India's engagement with the US was not at the cost of relations with Russia.

This message was repeatedly conveyed by Commerce, Defence and External Affairs Ministers Anand Sharma, A K Antony and S M Krishna respectively during their Moscow visits to prepare for the trade, defence and economic agenda of Prime Minister Singh's annual summit talks on December 7 with President Medvedev and parleys on economic cooperation with Prime Minister Putin.

On its part, Russia also realised the Indian sentiments on the Gorshkov upgrade project's cost escalation and delay in delivery of the much-needed aircraft carrier and its impact on the overall climate of the bilateral relations.

Two weeks after his Yekaterinburg talks with Singh, Medvedev travelled to the Sevmash shipyard in the White Sea town of Severodvinsk and blasted the management, bureaucrats and ministers involved in the Gorshkov project saying it has become the "sole irritant in the Russian-Indian relations".

Earlier, Putin had flown to Komsomolsk-on-Amur to take appropriate measures and arrange extra finances for completing the trials of accident hit 'Akula-II' class the Nerpa nuclear attack submarine to be leased to the Indian Navy.

The Indo-Russian CEO's Council meeting on the sidelines of Singh's visit was a major event, which opened the gates for full blooded economic cooperation and trade between the two nations, which have set the ambitious target of $20 billion bilateral trade by 2015 double the $10 billion target set for 2010.

The global meltdown, which hit Russia the worst among the BRIC economies, prodded strongman Putin to focus on economic ties with Asia in general and India in particular.

"Strengthening the strategic partnership with India remains one of the key priorities of Russia's foreign policy. This to full extent applies to interaction on the global arena, as well as to the development of multi-faceted economic relations," Putin said at Indo-Russian CEO's Council meet.

Putin, who is scheduled to visit India in March 2010 at the invitation of Prime Minister Singh, is keen to bring about 'qualitative' changes in the bilateral economic ties.

"We see, that cooperation with India has acquired real anti-crisis stability, it is not afraid of sharp fluctuations in the global economic conjuncture. Now our task is to move further, activate the whole arsenal of opportunities for the diversification of Russian-Indian contacts," Putin declared.

Since he has the reputation of a 'man of words and deeds' the Russian strongman's forthcoming visit to India could make 2010 an 'Year of India and Russia'.