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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Siege of Africa: China, India battle it out

Prejudice dies hard. In 1972, Manubhai Madhvani was arrested in Uganda for being of Indian origin and jailed in a dungeon nicknamed the "Singapore Block".

Dictator Idi Amin snatched all his wealth and expelled him from the country. To this day, the 79-year-old businessman counts himself lucky for not having been killed then.

It is events like this — and the all-too-familiar images of disease, poverty and squalor — that have shaped the stereotype of Africa in the minds of Indians. Somehow, we may have been a bit late to note when the continent began to change for the better.

In fact, Madhvani returned to Uganda in 1985 and rebuilt his family business in sugar and hospitality to a $200 million empire. Uganda, and many other African countries, reformed their economies and opened up to foreign investment.

But before we responded to the new Africa, someone else did. In a well-planned and executed strategy, China has been thrusting itself in all spheres of economic activity in the continent.

The Chinese "invasion" of Africa is veritably the biggest state-run investment in the last decade. They are everywhere. State-run Chinese firms are building bridges, roads, telecom networks, airports, and generally boosting the infrastructure all around. In return, they are getting access to natural resources.

China is now Africa’s biggest trading partner, ahead of the US. More than a million Chinese workers are now based there. After the European colonists left Africa, the Chinese have been dubbed the "neo-colonists".

But recently, a new picture is emerging in our image of Africa. And happily, its tone is Indian. Unlike China’s push driven by its government, the Indian march to Africa has been led by the private sector.

After proving themselves in fields as varied as automobiles, telecom and education in recent years, Indian businesses are gradually upping the ante.

Big ticket investments and acquisitions are emerging. In other words, Africa has become the new frontier for Indian companies to break into.

Steadily, the profile and the scale of Indian investments in Africa is going up.

In early August, the Essar group bought a refinery in Mombasa, Kenya. Essar is no stranger there. Its $450 million investment in the country’s mobile telephony market is yielding results — Essar’s brand ‘Yu’ has 400,000 subscribers.

There’s considerable excitement around Bharti group’s on-going talks for a merger with MTN, Africa’s biggest telecom company, which could create the world’s third largest telecom company.

NIIT has grown to be one of the continent’s biggest firms in information technology training, having taught 150,000 students across 55 centres.

The Tata group, the Mahindras and Ashok Leyland have been selling vehicles for more than five years now with increasing success. Indica cars are a common sight in Johannesburg. Sales have moved up from 5,000 to 20,000 a year.

Consumer products company Marico is already in Egypt and South Africa through a carefully orchestrated strategy of buying out local hair care brands. This is just a snapshot of the 42-odd frontline firms from India that have answered the call to Africa.

Fernandes gets clean chit in Kargil coffin scam

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is ready with the chargesheet in the 2002 Coffingate scam related to Kargil War. The investigating agency has named three Indian Army officials and a US company in the chargesheet.
But sources say there is no mention of the then defence minister George Fernandes in the chargesheet whose reputation was badly damaged by allegation of a scam in the purchase of the coffins.
The three Indian Army officer named in the chargesheet include Major General (retired) Arun Roye, Colonel (retired) SK Malik and a serving officer Colonel FB Singh.
The fourth accused in the case is the American manufacturer of the aluminium caskets.
Major General (retired) Roye was the Defence Attache in Washington when the caskets were ordered.
The caskets were allegedly purchased at a price many times their actual cost and the issue became a major embarrassment for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government.
An FIR was lodged by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance Government when it came to power after the 2004 Lok Sabha Elections.
At the height of the Kargil War the Defence Ministry imported aluminium caskets from US-based funeral service company Buitron and Baiza. A total of 500 aluminium caskets were imported to transport the bodies of slain soldiers.
Each casket was bought for $2,500, allegedly 13 times more than the actual price. It was also found that the first lot of caskets supplied were heavier than required, and were prone to develop leaks.
There have been allegations that all established procedures of defence procurement were flouted to award the contract to the US-based firm.
The government, too, allegedly incurred a loss of over $1,87,000 in the purchase.

its time to rethink

Army offers help for tackling Naxalism

PATNA: The Bihar Regimental Centre (BRC) on Friday held a civil-military liaison conference on its campus at Danapur Cantonment.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar and General Officer in Command, Central Command, Lt Gen J K Mohanty discussed various matters related to welfare of Army personnel and general development in Bihar at the meet held after a gap of 11 years.

The Army officials at the meet said that the Army would extend all possible help to Bihar government in tackling Naxalism and natural calamities and added it is ready to raise a separate battalion of territorial Army to maintain an ecological balance across the state. Lt Gen Mohanty said that Army could play an important role in curbing growing menace of ultra forces in the state. He, however, ruled out any possibility of setting up any more Army stations near Bihar-Nepal border now.

Describing this meet as significant, an Army official of Danapur said that the chief minister assured to extend all possible help to the Army in carrying out welfare work for the jawans and ex-servicemen belonging to Bihar Regiment. The state government agreed to allot the required land to the Army to complete its various ambitious projects in the state. The Army was satisfied with the assurance of the state government to transfer land to it for building Sainik schools at Nalanda and Gopalganj. The state government would also help to the Army to build various polyclinics across the state to provide better health care to Army personnel.

The Army also sought enhancement in grant of ex gratia to victims of the counter insurgency operation. The Army demanded a little hike in the monthly salary of special auxiliary police (SAP) from the present Rs 10,000 per month so that they get attracted to serve the state police.

Chief secretary Anup Mukherjee, principal secretary, home, Afzal Amanullah, DGP Anand Shankar, revenue and land reforms commissioner C Ashokvardhan were among the senior state government officials attending the meet. The government assured that the Army could get adequate land at Gaya where an Army station is already located, to carry out its welfare work.

The Army is currently in need of about 10 acres of land to construct houses for jawans under the Centrally-sponsored Army Welfare Housing Organisation (AWHO). Among other issues which came up for discussion included internal security, felicitation of Gallantry Award winners at the Independence Day and Republic Day functions in Bihar and problem caused by the national highway (NH) road passing through the Cantonment area, an Army spokesperson said.

Peace talks to restart in J&K, new sops coming

Kashmir’s separatists are set to be invited for peace talks for the first time in three years.

Former militants can aspire to become mechanics and artisans, and those across the border can hope to return home.

Families of those blacklisted as a security threat can hope to use their passports again.

After a long policy lull during his predecessor Shivraj Patil’s tenure, Home Minister P. Chidambaram is expected to soon begin a new peace push in the troubled region.

Those measures, likely to be laid down over the coming months, would come after one of the most dramatic years in the two-decade insurgency that witnessed a shutdown in peace talks, a long policy lull, the violent Amarnath agitation, and then the U-turn — the successful state elections that pushed separatist groups on the back foot.

But this year has been marked by widespread street protests over disappearances and deaths in the region where discontent against India runs deep and after some quiet weeks, streets can be fill up within an hour with furious, clenched-fist protesters.

“The effort is to not let events overtake us, and to bring back a policy focus in Kashmir,” a senior official with close knowledge of the planned initiatives told HT. He spoke on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak on the subject.

Some 40,000 people have died according to an official count in Kashmir since 1989, when a furious anti-India insurgency erupted there. Anti-government groups say the number of dead is twice the government count.

Structured peace talks were last held in September 2005 between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and separatist leaders, mostly demanding freedom for Kashmir.

Singh is, however, not likely to hold the talks himself this time, another official said, also declining to be named.
Militant groups have in the past appealed to separatists not to accept an offer of talks if they are announced. Alongside, the central government is planning measures for the estimated 25,000 former militants, mostly released from jail and some who surrendered.

“These will probably include free vocational courses -- I don’t think the state government has done much to rehabilitate them,” said a senior security official. “Otherwise they could easily return to the gun, not for ideology but for need.”

Some hope could also come for thousands of men across the border in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, former militants who now ply autorickshaws and run shops and crave to return home, as brought out in interviews with Indian journalists who have travelled and met them in recent years.

Many got married across the border. Some have walked up to the Line of Control with their Pakistani families and surrendered to Indian border guards.

“An invitation to them to return home is being considered. We could facilitate that, with the help of the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross),” a security official said.

Some passport relaxations are also planned for those who have been prosecuted at any time under the Public Safety Act. The accused currently cannot apply for government jobs, and they and their families cannot travel overseas or get passports, stigmatised for life in the eyes of the law.

All this is a big departure from Patil’s tenure, marked by near-total inaction on Kashmir.

“He would hear our ideas, have nothing to say, would ask no questions, and finally say, ‘OK!’ and you would leave.

It was frustrating,” said a top official who has interacted with both home ministers.

“Chidambaram is engaged, he is open to ideas, he is emphatic in agreeing or disagreeing with you. It’s a change from the days of our monologues to Mr Patil,” he said.

RBI ends ATM comfort

Mumbai, Aug. 21: Barely five months after the service charge on using automated teller machines (ATMs) of other banks was scrapped, it will be re-introduced if someone uses this facility more than five times a month, a high-ranking banking sector official said here on Friday.
The Indian Banks Association (IBA), the representative organisation of private and public sector banks in India, has proposed that instead of allowing an unlimited number of free transactions at another bank’s ATM, there should be a limit of up to five free transactions a month.
"Beyond five transactions, we propose to levy a transaction fee of Rs 20 per transaction for using another bank’s ATM," said the IBA deputy chief executive, Mr K. Unnikrishnan.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has accepted the IBA proposal, but it will be implemented only by October, Mr Unnikrishnan said on Friday.
A RBI spokesperson confirmed the development.
"It will be optional on the part of the banks to levy this charge on customers. We have not made it mandatory but left it to their (banks’) discretion," the official said.
He explained that since the RBI’s permission has been taken, it would not be improper on the part of banks to levy the charges if they wanted.
There are a little over 40,000 ATMs in India, of which nearly 30,000 are in urban centres and metros. The remaining 10,000 are in semi-urban centres with only a sprinkling in rural areas.
There are around 80 state-run, private, cooperative and foreign participating banks in the ATM network in the country.
After the ATM transactions fees on using other banks’ ATMs was scrapped in April, the IBA studied the entire gamut of ATM transactions. "We found that a majority of the ATM transactions were in the range of average withdrawals of Rs 3,500-4,000, and 90 per cent of all transactions were bel-ow Rs 10,000. Hence, the intended purpose to serve the common man was ach-ieved," he said. — IANS

Promotion : IPS

1991 batch IPS officer of Tripura and Jharkhand approved to be IG.

India, US to hold air exercise in October

New Delhi, Aug 21 (PTI) India and the US will hold a joint military exercise in October, involving transport aircraft and helicopters of the airforces of the two nations.

"We are going to hold 'Exercise Cope-India' in October this year with the US Air Force in Agra and Chandigarh involving transport aircraft and choppers from both sides," IAF officials said here.

Agra and Chandigarh are the two major hubs of transport aircraft of the IAF.

During the exercise, officials said, India would be represented by its Russian manufactured transport fleet of IL-76 heavy lift and An-32 aircraft along with its Mi-17s and Mi-8s.

The USAF is expected to include its C-17 Globemaster heavy lift and C-130J 'Hercules' medium lift transport aircraft besides the tandem rotor Chinook heavy lift choppers in the exercise.

"Indian and American Special Forces personnel will be air dropped during the war games," they said.

Can India try to break up China?

An article appeared in www.iiss.cn in the name of XinLang Bo ke, suggesting certain strategic steps to break India. This article was in Chinese language and therefore was translated and commented upon by Indian media. The very fact that such an article has been allowed to be published in a website by China where no freedom for expression is available, reflects the real intention of China and such intentions must be well known to the Indian strategists.

One of the translation invites a reference to the caste system in India

If India today relies on any thing for unity, it is the Hindu religion. The partition of the country was based on religion. Stating that today nation states are the main current in the world, it has said that India could only be termed now as a ‘Hindu religious state’. Adding that Hinduism is a decadent religion as it allows caste exploitation and is unhelpful to the country’s modernisation, it described the Indian government as one in a dilemma with regard to eradication of the caste system as it realises that the process to do away with castes may shake the foundation of the consciousness of the Indian nation.

China in its own interest and the progress of Asia, should join forces with different nationalities like the Assamese, Tamils, and Kashmiris and support the latter in establishing independent nation-States of their own, out of India. In particular, the ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom) in Assam, a territory neighboring China, can be helped by China so that Assam realises its national independence.

In another translation the Chinese intention of claiming more Indian territories in the south of Tibet is revealed

To split India, China can bring into its fold countries like Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan, support Ulfa in attaining its goal for Assam’s independence, back aspirations of Indian nationalities like Tamils and Nagas, encourage Bangladesh to give a push to the independence of West Bengal and lastly recover the 90,000 sq km territory in southern Tibet.

Xinjiang (New Territory) - Represented in Red

Xinjiang (New Territory) - Represented in Red

The contents of that article are totally against the existence of India . At the same time it appears to be a deliberate attempt to divert attention of the Chinese population from the disturbing internal affairs in the states of Xinjiang and Tibet. On the other hand the ruling communist party of China may be concerned about the growing economic and military power of India with a positive forecast on the Indian economy and the recent launching of nuclear submarine in the Indian Navy ; But such concerns are unfounded since at present China is well ahead of India in both economic and military status.

China have reasons to celebrate after gaining success of Maoists in Nepal, getting closer to Rajapakse Government in Sri Lanka and enjoying a solidarity with military junta in Myanmar. In this context the Indian strategy on foreign relations with neighboring countries has completely failed.

China may be delighted by the activities of Maosts in India who mostly come from the depressed classes and tribals. Only the upper caste dominated Indian strategists consider Maoists as enemy and go for a violent solution to fight with them as if they are the representatives of China forgetting that they are the citizens of India.

In reality it is purely an internal affair of few states in India even though there can be evidences that Chinese are encouraging Maoists from across the Border. This can be solved by mobilising resource for spending towards the progress of people in the Maoist controlled areas. Alternately the locals should be given more share out of the natural resources of the concenred region.

This flag is used by Uyghurs as a symbol of the East Turkestan independence movement. The Government of the Peoples Republic of China prohibits using the flag in the country.

This flag is used by Uyghurs as a symbol of the East Turkestan independence movement. The Government of the People's Republic of China prohibits using the flag in the country.

If China sees a truth in identifying caste system as a tool to defeat India , it fails to recognize the rise of Indian Union by sharing of geographical and human resources among the States mostly divided by Languages and not by castes.

The reference to Tamils as potential nationality to which China should align fails inherently since Chinese have already aligned with the Sinhalese nationalistc Rajapakse regime, which is largey seen by the Tamils as a gonocidal regime. China also supports the military Junta of Myanmar where Tamils in millions are converted to Burmese language and culture.

The Chinese have got a wrong impression about Tamils. The valiant struggle of Tamils in Sri Lanka for the past few decades and the recent outburst in Malaysia should have made the Chinese to come to a conclusion that Tamils can be easily espoused for a vociferous demand on their linguistic and religious rights.

During Tibet's history, it has been an independent country. Today, Tibet is administered by the People's Republic of China (PRC).

Previously some of the foreign hands with an ill intention to slow down Indian economy, were successful in cultivating separatism in Punjab which was progressing ahead of the rest of the states in agriculture and other fields.

By the same failed logic they believe that Tamil Nadu which is progressing to become number one state in India can be targeted to destabilise Indian economy. Moreover China is always envious about the success of India in Software field which is now a catalyst to the progressing Indian Economy. It should be noted that Tamils are seen in software field all over the globe. This is the reason behind a conspiracy being laid by China to alienate Tamils from mainstream India.

The Tamils in Tamil Nadu India, demonstrated their affinity to their language in Anti Hindi agitation in 1960s but their protest came to an end once they got an assurance about continuation of English as a link language. Now the Tamils have come a long way and constitute inseparable patriotic entity of Indian Union. At this time all other nationalities in India are reaping the benefit of retaining English as a link language and are appreciating Tamils about their forethought.

If our think tank in the external affairs do not feel disturbed and if they restrain from taking legal action for writing something against the so called cordial and friendly relation with China we can also advice our Indian strategists to follow a similar roadmap as below.

1. Have a game plan and strategy to break China

2. Ally with Anti China countries.

3. Weaken the pro China countries like Pakistan , Myanmar and Srilanka by promoting separatism in those countries

4. Plan for closer alliance with western countries so that they come to assist India to Indian Navy in the Indian ocean.

5. By planning the coastal security with allies, the land and air capabilities should be enhanced well so that when China attacks, India can reclaim its lost territories

6. Recognise fully the Government of Tibet in exile. Promote liberation of Tibet

7. Promote liberation of Uyghur Muslims in alliance with the central asian countries which are sympathetic to freedom of the oil rich state of Xinjiang.

8. Ask Russia , Vietnam and Japan to pressurize China in whatever aspect possible to encircle China in case of dispute with India.

But we will not insist such ideas as this will make no difference between authoritarian China and Democratic India.

Instead India should go for Promoting Democracy and Human rights in China by joining hands with the liberal people of China and Tibet.

So far India is seen compromising on the Human rights, Freedom of Expression and rights of minorities just for the sake of ill conceived regional cooperation and for short term economic gains in commerce and trade and reconstruction activities. No amount of compromise is enough to satisfy countries like SriLanka, Pakistan and Myanmar. Such compromises are going to result in losses.

But without preparing a home ground, India cannot play a peaceful game in this region. The Non Governmental organisations in India must be allowed and encouraged to conduct peaceful demonstrations, campaigns for the cultural and religious rights of Buddhist Tibetians, for the right to autonomy of Xinjiang Muslims, for the restoration of democracy and release of Ms Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar, for establishing a homeland for Tamils in Sri Lanka, for the rights of Malaysian Hindus and for freedom of expression in South Asia especially in Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

This is the proven way, just like India has already made a non violent cultural aggression through the spread of Buddhism in Asian countries including China, we can also make this successful invasion through Democracy and Human rights. Best wishes India!

If China dreams about an India free from caste conflicts, it can send back Buddhism to India.

What about Indian defense and Security? That is well advised by a Tamil saint long time back.

Plan, Strengthen and Guard Yourself
And Your foe’s hopes will collapse - Thiruvalluvar ( 878)

Navy roped in for vigil during immersion

Mumbai: For the first time in the history of Ganesh immersions, the Navy will keep vigil on the beaches. Though the main immersion is on September 3, visarjans will also take place on almost all the days after the installation of idols on August 23.

"BMC had tied up with the Indian Navy for the immersion to avoid accidents on the beaches during the festival. It will also keep a watch along the coastline," said additional municipal commissioner Mahadeo Sangle, adding, "Normally, it is the Coast Guard that help BMC during immersion, but for the first time, BMC is roping in the Navy for the immersion. It will keep a vigil at Girgaum Chowpatty and Powai lake." Girgaum Chowpatty last year saw over 1,00,000 Ganpati immersions on visarjan day, while Powai lake was the epicentre of central and eastern suburban immersions.

BMC has also alerted Ganesh mandals to make foolproof security arrangements and deploy "trained" volunteers for crowd management. Sangale said, "This year, mandals have to be careful and more vigilant. They have to take more security measures. Controlling the mob is more important this time." Mandals have been asked to keep an open space near the pandals, have stickers for organisers' vehicles and I-cards for all volunteers.

Meanwhile, the silence zone issue is still to be resolved. "There is no clear instruction about relaxation of silence zones. The state government has not informed us about it yet." said Sangale. Police are the implementing authority to enforce silence zones.

Navy chief says it is battle ready, coasts are well patrolled

Panaji: Indian Naval Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta said on Friday the Navy is ready to battle the whole spectrum of low-end terror to nuclear warfare, if required.

We have the capability to exercise the kind of control we want in the region, Mehta, who was on the farewell visit to Goa, told reporters at the INS Hansa base in the port town of Vasco.

He said the naval force is ready to counter the whole spectrum of low-end terror to nuclear warfare in the sea.

Admiral Mehta said that Indian navy is growing and has been a force to reckon with in the continent.

Replying to a question on coastal security after Mumbai attack, Mehta said that the coasts are hundred per cent safe and well patrolled by navy's 140-odd-ship force manned by well trained men in uniform.

"For all practical purpose we are almost an island country. Our maximum trade is through the sea and navy ensures that the waters are safe for the trade", he said.

The naval chief said that the Indian maritime forces can now be dependent on indigenous shipyards to have its fleet requirement fulfilled.

Its a matter of great satisfaction that we have our shipyards building the smallest of the vessels to the largest of aircraft carriers, Mehta added.

He said that around 40 ships and submarines are being constructed in the shipyards across the country as also the aircraft carrier.

Admiral Mehta said that as the time passes the ships are getting more complex and technologically advanced.

The navy has need for people who are trained that is why we have shifted naval academy to Ezhimala (Kerala). Every executive officer passing out will be now an engineer with Btech qualification, he said.

Lt Gen VK Ahluwalia Flagged Off joint Indo-German Army mountaineering expedition to Mount Shivling

Lt Gen VK Ahluwalia, Director General Military Training Flagged Off a joint Indo-German mountaineering expedition to Mt Shivling (6543M) in Garhwal Himalayan Region, today at Sena Bhawan, New Delhi.

Mount Shivling stands tall at an altitude of 6543 meters and attracts mountaineers from allover the world. The first ascent of Mount Shivling was done by ITBP expedition team on 03 Jun 1974. The Indian Army has climbed this peak in 1984, 2006 and latest in 2007.

The joint team comprising of 18 personnel of Indian Army and 04 personnel of German Army is being led by Maj Vishal Thapa of Indian Army, a seasoned and expert mountaineer with impeccable mountaineering records.

The team will move to Gangotri for the expedition on 22/23 Aug 09. After the mandatory pre-expedition training and acclimatization, the peak will be attempted between 21-27 Sep 09, subject to weather conditions.

The joint expedition by both the armies will not only help the participants to learn from each other's varied experiences but would go a long way in strengthening the ties between both the Nations.

Coffingate: CBI nails US national, army men

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has laid bare the 'Coffingate" conspiracy -- the purchase of overpriced, substandard coffins and body bags for Indian soldiers who died on the battlefield.

The scandal had embarrassed the military and outraged the nation in 2002. Though the amount involved was small, it damaged the reputation of the NDA government, then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and then defence minister George Fernandes.

The CBI has charge-sheeted three Indian army officials -- retired Major General Arun Roye, then Indian military attache in Washington; retired Colonel SK Malik, then posted with the Master General of Ordnance (MGO); and Colonel FB Singh, then posted with MGO -- and US national Victor Baiza, who supplied the aluminum caskets and body bags to the Indian army.

The ministry of defence (MOD) had imported the substandard caskets and body bags in 1999-2000 at the exorbitant rate of over Rs125,000 per casket and for Rs4.250 per body bag. The CBI said the Indian government suffered a loss of Rs89.76 lakh due to excessive payments.

The CBI registered its charge-sheet in a Delhi court last week, after it registered a case on June 28, 2006. This is perhaps the first time that a US national has been charge-sheeted in a defence scam.

Investigations established that Arun Roye "dishonestly did not explore any other manufacturer of aluminum caskets and body bags in USA and merely referred again to the offer/quotation given by Baiza and forwarded the same to MGO branch."

The CBI also noted that the accused army officials showed undue haste before the Kargil war broke out.

"Investigations revealed that on March 10, 1999 (without waiting for approval of the concerned authority) Col SK Malik forwarded the tender enquiry to Victor Baiza for quoting the rate of his firm.

The act of Malik and FB Singh was an undue favour extended to Victor Baiza especially when viewed in the context that on March 10, 1999, there was no emergency because the Kargil war had not started."

The CBI noted that there were other manufacturers of aluminum caskets but Malik and Singh ignored them. Further, in 2007, US officials confirmed that Baiza was not a manufacturer of aluminum caskets. "It has been established that Baiza was a mortician and the aluminum caskets supplied by him were purchased from one Ronald Connelly, general manager of Dayton Manufacturing.

He purchased these caskets at $1,559 per casket and supplied the same to the Indian army for $2,500, (a whopping profit of $1,000 per piece)," the CBI stated in its charge-sheet.

First batch of armoured ambulances rolled out

The first batch of Ambulance Armoured Tracked Vehicles to be used by the Indian Army to evacuate casualties from the battlefield was rolled out at the Ordnance Factory here on Friday.

Designed by the Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment , a branch of the Defence Research and Development Organisation, and manufactured at the Ordnance Factory, Medak, the armoured ambulance is equipped to administer emergency medical care to battle casualties . It has in-built medical facilities including a continuous ECG monitoring, a ventilator, a suction unit to remove unwanted fluids, a DC refrigerator for preserving drugs and an air-conditioner with optional heating facility .

With the same mobility as an Infantry Combat Vehicle , the ambulance can cross a variety of terrains and even traverse through water. Features include a special blower and absorbent filter for nuclear, biological and chemical protection, and external and internal radio communication for navigation.

The seating capacity of 10 plus two includes medical attendants, but this can vary depending on the number of stretcher patients. Four stretcher patients, or two stretcher and four sitting patients, or eight sitting patients can be accommodated at a time.

Although the first model was ready in December 2005, it had to undergo several changes before a trial in September 2006. Three years and 56 modifications later, 10 vehicles were rolled out ready to be used by the Indian Army.

The Army has already ordered 288 armoured tracked ambulances. So far however, the Ordnance Factory has assembled only 50 such ambulances so that the army can recommend further changes, once the vehicles have been used in combat operations.

“You will get such large orders from the Indian army in the future that your machines will be running for the next 15 years,” Lieutenant General Duleep Bhardwaj, Director General Mechanised Forces said. He was there to receive the first ambulance on behalf of the Chief of Staff. Saroj Vinayek, Director General and Chairperson, Ordnance Factories Board was the chief guest .

City firms to roll out anti-bomb robot for Army soon

The first lot of DRDO’s bomb detection and disposal robot, Daksh, for the use of the Indian Army will roll out soon. City-based Dynalog India Limited, Bharat Electronics Limited and Theta Control are in the process of manufacturing Daksh, a two-foot-high, remote-operated, battery-run vehicle that weighs 350 kg and is designed to detect and defuse Improvised Explosive Devices (IED).
After the Army had placed orders for 20 robots in March, DRDO has been trying to sell the concept to security agencies like the National Security Guard and the police, as a tool to fight terror. “In the last two months the Mumbai Police and the CRPF have been showing interest,” said Alok Mukherjee, DRDO scientist at the Research and Development Establishment (Enggrs) and a key member of the Daksh team.
Daksh can be used in urban areas and country terrain. It can be used against militants in J&K and the North East as well as against Naxalites in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and other states, said Mukherjee. DRDO believes Daksh will be of use to paramilitary forces, the Airports Authority of India and Indian Railways to secure their areas.

Govt plans Rs 10,000cr dedicated telecom network for armed forces

NEW DELHI: In a significant national security-related development, the government is moving to build a $2 billion or Rs 9,970.16 crore dedicated, highly secure and state-of-the-art optical fiber cable (OFC) network for the Army, Navy and Air Force.

This will be one of the world’s largest, closed user group (CUG) networks for exclusive use by the million-plus personnel of the Indian armed forces.

This project was earlier seen as a precondition to vacation of valuable 3G spectrum — used by the defence forces for their weapon and radar systems. But the real strategic need and growing urgency to fast-track the network is closely aligned to India’s ambitions to rapidly build an impregnable communications network for its armed forces.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) has been asked to prepare a note for the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) for getting financial approvals for this network.

The first step in that direction is an approval from the full Telecom Commission, which is meeting on August 28. The TC comprises the secretaries of DoT, Planning Commission, ministry of external affairs, department of information technology and DIPP.

Approval has been sought for Rs 8,893 crore to build an OFC network for Army and Navy from DoT budget, and for transferring the assets created to the defence ministry after completion.

The government has already approved Rs 1,077.16 crore to build Air Force leg of the project.

This network will prove gainful for PSU firms BSNL and MTNL who have been tasked with building it.

In exchange for this network, the defence forces will release 25 MHz of pan-India spectrum.

Sibal hints at pay relook - Minister ready to lend ear to IIT, IIM faculty

New Delhi, Aug. 21: The government is willing to address concerns raised by IIT and IIM faculty over a controversial new pay regime opposed by teachers at the premier institutions, human resource development minister Kapil Sibal said today.
“I am certainly willing to listen to their concerns. I may call a meeting with my officials to consider any problems (with the new pay scales),” Sibal said, in response to a question at a news briefing.
His statement came on a day when teachers at IIT Kharagpur and IIT Madras stayed away from classes in protest against the new pay regime that they said was “disrespectful”.
The IITs are expected to collectively submit a memorandum to Sibal through their directors, who are expected to discuss the concerns raised by their faculty at a meeting in Chennai on Sunday.
As reported first in The Telegraph — on August 19 and 20 — the new pay scales cleared by the cabinet snipped annual increments proposed by a central panel set up to revise salaries.
The new pay regime also ignores a slew of incentives proposed by the central panel under former Indian Institute of Science director Goverdhan Mehta to attract fresh teachers and retain the best faculty at the institutes.
The IITs and the IIMs face a faculty shortage of between 20 and 30 per cent, many of their best teachers lured away by better salary offers in industry or foreign education institutions.
Sibal, his predecessor Arjun Singh, and several other government officials have repeatedly dubbed the faculty shortage a major problem plaguing these institutes.

Tokyo invite for army chief

New Delhi, Aug. 21: Army chief General Deepak Kapoor will attend the US-sponsored three-day Pacific Armies’ Chiefs Conference (PACC) in Tokyo from August 24.
The conference is primarily a networking event with time marked out for shopping, visits to museums and a US military base but the chiefs also hold bilateral discussions.
The Pacific Armies’ Chiefs Conference VI in Tokyo has as its theme “International Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief in Natural and Human-induced Disasters”.
For PACC-VI, army chiefs of 31 countries in the Asia-Pacific region have been invited. The US is co-hosting the event with Japan.
“These conferences are intended to foster enhanced military-to-military co-operation, develop interpersonal relationship and contribute significantly to regional dialogue and security. The conference will also promote cooperation and better understanding among regional armies,” an army statement released today said.
The release said General Kapoor would have bilateral meetings with many other chiefs. Army sources said the discussions with other chiefs would be “on issues of mutual interest, specially the ongoing defence co-operation engagements and regional security in the Asia Pacific region”.
The multilateral discussions would focus onthe role that land forces should play in civil-military cooperation and issues to build international cooperation in disaster relief operations.

Navy pilot dead

Panaji, Aug. 21 (PTI): An Indian Navy fighter aircraft today crashed off the Goa coast, killing the pilot.
“The Indian naval Sea Harrier aircraft, which was on a routine exercise mission, crashed about 11.57am,” a navy spokesperson said. He also confirmed the death of Lieutenant Commander Saurav Saxena.

Flip-flop on security law

Srinagar, Aug. 21: The state law minister today said the Armed Forces Special Powers Act would remain in force “as long as it is required”.
Days earlier, chief minister Omar Abdullah had urged the Centre to review the stringent law.
“Everyone is concerned about this act and we want to give relief to the people,” law minister Ali Mohammad Sagar told the Assembly. “But this act will stay till it is required in the state.”
Sagar’s reply, which came in response to the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP’s) clamour for a repeal, appears to suggest the National Conference-led government is dragging its feet on the law’s withdrawal.
The armed forces’ act is a controversial 1990 law that empowers security forces to open fire on mere suspicion even if it causes death, enter and search houses, and make arrests without warrants. The PDP has demanded its withdrawal since pulling out support to the Congress in the wake of the Amarnath land agitation last year.
The National Conference too backed the cause. Earlier this week, at the chief ministers’ conference on internal security in Delhi, Omar had urged the Centre to review the law.
Earlier, he had promised that the act would go during his tenure. But the state law minister’s statement today implies that no such action would be taken in the immediate future.
Sagar insisted that the government was “concerned” but tried to suggest that Omar had called only for a partial lifting of the law.
“The chief minister has called (during the Delhi conference) for removing its (the act’s) applicability from the districts in the state where terrorists or insurgent activities are minimal or insignificant,” he said.
Sagar tried to turn the tables on the PDP by accusing its patron, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, of extending the act to Jammu and Kashmir when he was Union home minister in the early 1990s.
Sagar’s counter-attack in the Assembly today was the first time the Omar government, under fire for the past few months, had taken the Opposition head-on over any controversial issue in the House.
“The PDP has a habit of misleading people. It is strange that the party which brought the law here is now asking for its repeal. When PDP was in power from 2002 to 2008 — I have checked from the official documents — they never raised this issue,” Sagar said.
The law, he said, was first implemented through an ordinance before Sayeed turned it into an act.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti rubbished the claims.

Policeman lobs grenade for militants

Imphal, Aug. 21: Lured by a militant group’s offer of Rs 5,000, a policeman hurled a grenade at people in front of a hospital here this morning.
The blast injured five persons, two of them — an eight-year-old girl passing by and a patient’s relative — seriously.
The jawan, T. Munal, a rifleman of the 2nd India Reserve Battalion, who was arrested by police on suspicion of having lobbed the grenade, later confessed to having received the money from the Kangleipak Communist Party (Military Council).
He also admitted to having lobbed grenades at people in front of hospitals and clinics twice earlier.
Today, the grenade exploded about 20 feet from the main entrance of Chamber Hospital, Medical Care and Research Centre around 6.30am. The site is only 150 metres from the Manipur Assembly.
The KCP (MC) had also left a pinless hand grenade at the entrance of the hospital targeted today on August 15 morning. It had stated the next day that the grenade was a warning to the hospital for not complying with its “rules and regulations”.
“I was in the operation theatre. The blast shook the hospital. I ran, not knowing where I was heading. Everybody inside the hospital started crying,” a nurse said.

Antony in Maldives

New Delhi, Aug. 21: Defence minister A.K. Antony today visited an island in the Maldives where the Indian Navy wants to station surveillance aircraft.
The Gan coral island in the Addoo Atoll is just south of the equator.
The defence minister was accompanied by his Maldivian counterpart, Ameen Faisal.
A defence ministry release said Antony visited a memorial in honour of Indian soldiers killed in World War II (1939-1945).
A senior navy source had said that a permanent strategic presence in Gan was important for India