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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Dear Readers,

1. The poll question was " Do you feel that separate pay commission will address all issues of a soldier, considering IIT/IIM pay package fiasco"

2. The compilation of summary is here for all to read:

a) total votes : 23

b) No. of "ayes" : 08 (38%)

c) No. of "No's" : 13( 54%)

d) No. of " Can't say" : 02 ( 8%)

3. The next poll question is online for all to consider and vote.



IIM-A dons want Harvard-like status

AHMEDABAD: Quality comes at a cost and the faculty of Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad has made that very clear in a memorandum sent to ministry of human resource development (MHRD) on Friday.

This is in response to a notification sent by MHRD on August 20 detailing their salary structure as per the Sixth Pay Commission which took the wind out of their sails.

The four-member committee that framed the memorandum has quoted Harvard salaries to justify their demand.

Designed on lines of Harvard Business School, IIM-A is upset that the Sixth Pay Commission has wrested this ‘special status’ from it, so they are demanding bigger pay packets.

The memorandum says an assistant professor (AP) at Harvard gets $140,000 as annual starting pay, equivalent to Rs 23 lakh and Indian School of Business (ISB) pays over Rs 20 lakh to its APs. Against this, an IIM-A AP gets only Rs 5.5 lakh as starting pay annually.

A major concern of the faculty council of IIM-A is that if institutes of excellence are not given special status, the faculty-student ratio in these institutes could suffer. To retain the ‘top notch’ faculty in the institute they have to be given enough reason to stay.

“Till the sixth Pay Commission, even though we did not have salaries, we were given the status of being premier.
But now there is neither,” said a faculty of the institute. One of the recommendations is that the faculties, should also get a scholastic pay of Rs 15,000 per month over and above their pay band and grade pay. Faculty councils of Indian Institute of Technology and IIM-Calcutta have already sent a memorandum to MHRD.

IIM-A is self sustaining and has not been taking any government grants for its functioning or even expansion. In the memorandum, the faculty has said that present notification is much below what is required and has requested MHRD to reconsider.

The memorandum sent to MHRD on Friday was prepared in the backdrop of a draft memorandum framed by IIM-Calcutta (IIM-C) on pay structure disparities. It was the first to submit a draft highlighting disparities in pay structure to the ministry.

IIM-C is going to have another meeting on Monday and IIM-Bangalore has shown its support too.

IIT-Gandhinagar joins the chorus

Indian Institute of Technology-Gandhinagar faculty also joined in the agitation for better pay packets. The deadline that IITs had given to MHRD to take up the matter ended on Friday, and the ministry has not responded. The IITs had demanded that assistant professor should have a starting salary of Rs 30,000 per month with a grade pay of Rs 8,000, associate professor be given grade pay of Rs 10,000 and professor a grade of Rs 12,000. The faculty association has also demanded a professional development allowance of Rs 5 lakh for a block of three years and a scholastic allowance of Rs 15,000.

IIM-A panel on pay structure to submit report to HRD ministry

A three-member panel, formed at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), which looked into 'pay structure disparities' for faculty members has prepared its report and the same is likely to be submitted to Union HRD Ministry.

"We have prepared the draft report suggesting views of IIM-A faculty on pay structure recommendations notified by the government in August. We have submitted the report to IIM-A director," a member of the panel said.

"The report is now likely to be sent to the Union HRD Ministry by the director," the member said.

According to the faculty members, the new pay structure notified in August this year is designed in such a way that the increase in their salary is lesser than that granted to their counterparts in other educational institutions.

The other issue is about the fresh limit imposed on faculty development fund, a senior IIM-A professor said.

"The report was prepared in the backdrop of draft memorandum prepared by the IIM-Calcutta on pay structure disparities," the professor said, adding, IIM-Calcutta was the first to submit a draft highlighting the disparities in pay structure to the Ministry. So far there has been a silent agitation across all the IIMs, but now we shall be registering our views on the issue, another faculty member said.

BRO project adds to Rohtang Pass woes

The Rohtang Pass at 13,050 ft height offers nothing for its visitors except dust and noxious fumes of vehicular smoke during the dry summer season and long traffic jams on slushy potholed road stretches between Marhi and Grambhu. The slow unscientific pace of work being carried out by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has turned certain road stretches into sliding zones, leaving behind scars on the once grassy Rohtang Pass of migratory shepherds.
But the “unscientific” widening of the road between Marhi from the Manali side and Gramhu from the Lahaul side has turned into a sliding zone at many places. Unscientific cutting of slopes has breached natural drains of the Rohtang mountain, sinking its fragile land, observe ecologists.
The BRO has set up 2012 as the deadline for completion of the double-laning of the national highway between Manali and Keylong. Despite five months long working season in the Lahaul valley, the BRO is moving at a slow pace on the highway.
No active machinery engaging in the widening work was observed except that the BRO labour force was doing the road surfacing from Rohtang top towards the Marhi side.
There are over a dozen spots between Marchi and Grmabhu, which have become a nightmare for the travellers going to the Lahaul valley. The soil is eroding and several stretches are sliding as the stream water rushing down on steep slopes flows freely through the road or onto the road as the BRO has not constructed proper temporary drains or culverts, taking water through course of streams.
It takes five or six hours during peak traffic hours for a visitor to reach Gramphu or Marhi, a 30 km-long road stretch, rue visitors. “The road is littered with deep slushy potholes, boulders that make journey even hazardous,” they say. More than 500 tourists and other transport vehicles, oil tankers and Army vehicles that cross the Pass daily put breaks on the work as the traffic jams have become the order of the day, rue BRO engineers and workers.
BRO Commander SK Doon says that BRO it taking utmost care in ensuring smooth flow of civilian vehicles and keeping the pace of work of double-laning moving. The machinery being used in cutting and widening is bound to destabilise the land strata, he explains.

No more static duty for unarmed CRPF jawans

After losing its unarmed jawans to militants, the CRPF has categorically told the state police that its men requisitioned by the police for law and order problems would not carry out static duties, which is a violation of the standard operating procedure (SOP) as well.
A senior CRPF official told The Tribune the decision was conveyed to police officials present in a top-level meeting attended by security agencies in the wake of the killing of two CRPF jawans on August 31. Both jawans were on static duties outside an ATM.
He said the state police had made it a practice to deploy CRPF personnel requisitioned to deal with volatile situations like protests on standing duty on roads and in market places, a job meant for the police. “Since these jawans were meant for law and order duties, most of them would carry only batons and only a small component would be armed. By deploying them on static duties, the police violated the SOP,” he said.
The top CRPF brass has told the police that their men requisitioned for a “specific purpose” should be called out for a “specific job” only.
The effect of the decision is already visible in Srinagar and the sight of baton-carrying CRPF jawans has disappeared.
Though the SOP also makes it clear that long-term deployment of the CRPF would not be for law and order duties the peculiar condition of Kashmir, where protests are common which had seen a renewed vigour this year before the police clamped down on separatists, meant the paramilitary force often did what it was not supposed to. And the deployment of their unarmed jawans on static duties in crowded and often hostile areas was almost an invitation to militant attacks.
The CRPF is also responsible for keeping the highway safe, called ROP (road opening parties) duty in official parlance, but these jawans are armed and deployed strategically.


HYDERABAD: He took off despite bad weather, veered 18 km off the flight path and made no effort to steer the chopper back to safety, notwithstanding heavy rain and poor visibility. What was on Group Captain Sunil Kumar Bhatia’s mind when he was flying the illfated Bell-430 helicopter that eventually crashed killing all five onboard including Rajasekhara Reddy? Though some of his colleagues say that Bhatia, with 25 years of flying experience, is not the one to make such mistakes, happenings within the AP Aviation Corporation (APAC) indicate that Bhatia was in a disturbed state of mind. He was allegedly humiliated by some officials after he tried to expose ‘‘certain corrupt activities’’ in the APAC.The Crime Investigation Department (CID), which has taken up the probe into the crash, will be investigating this very aspect, which now appears to be the key element in the incident. VSK Kaumudi, IG-CID, will head the probe. Top sources disclosed to Express that Bhatia had personally handed over two representations to a senior IAS officer on the alleged corruption in the APAC.In his representations, a copy of which is also said to have been sent to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Bhatia stated that unqualified and incompetent pilots were being inducted into the APAC, particularly those performing VIP duties. He was also said to have alleged that money was paid to officials for renewing contracts and that kickbacks were involved in purchase of spare parts and maintenance of choppers. As per norms, the State Government awards contracts to some private firms that provide pilots.However, it is not clear whether 47-year-old Bhatia mentioned names in his representations.Having submitted his representations, Bhatia was expecting an enquiry from the Government side but the matter reached senior officials of the APAC and he was issued two memos.He was asked to explain why he made a direct representation to the Government and in what authority. To one memo, Bhatia replied. Thereafter, Bhatia was allegedly harassed on one pretext or the other. ‘‘Surpassing Bhatia, some junior pilots were given his responsibilities just to humiliate him. He was disturbed and tense and at one time, he said he wanted to return to the Indian Air Force, h i s parent organisat i o n , ’ ’ sources said.On an earlier occasion, Bhatia, a 1984 batch officer of the IAF and on deputation to the APAC for the last three years, voiced his resentment before some officials over the alleged kickbacks received in the purchase of the Augusta Westland chopper. Subsequently, his name was cancelled from the list of pilots and co-pilots who were to train in Italy to fly the Augusta Westland.Augusta Westland was purchased for Rs 58 crore and YSR was to fly on it on Wednesday.But as it was under repair, the Chief Minister was forced to use the Bell-430.

Last rites of YSR's aides held with state honour

Hyderabad: Last rites of late Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy's chief security officer ASC Wesley, principal secretary Dr P Subramanyam and pilot group captain SK Bhatia were performed on Friday.
Wesley's body arrived at Mamdipalem in Ongole wrapped in a Tricolour. He is survived by wife, a 10-year-old son and a six-year-old daughter.
He last rights were performed in his home town of Mamdipalem where thousands paid last tribute to their hero.
Additional Director General of Police (Law & Order) AK Khan and other police officers visited CSO's house and paid their condolences.
Subramanyam was cremated in Chemadgunta village in Nellore district where the last rites were performed on Friday afternoon with state honours.
Subramanyam was known to be one of the most important people among the YSR's men.
Group captain Bhatia, one of the pilots of the ill-fated twin-engine Bell-340, was laid to rest with a gun salute by the Indian Air Force.
Co-pilot captain MS Reddy's body was taken to his home district of Nalgonda for the final rites which will be performed on Saturday.
The helicopter carrying the five people crashed on Wednesday morning on the Rudrakonda hills in Nallamala forest during bad weather killing all its occupants instantly.
Their charred bodies were recovered on Thursday morning after a search that last for nearly 24 hours.

11 Air Force planes and one SMS

This is what it took to locate the charred helicopter of Dr YSR that crashed in dense Kurnool forests

The mission to search and rescue Andhra Pradesh's Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy though ended on a sad note the Indian Air Force (IAF) proved that it is a force to reckon with not just the equipment but strategy too.

The IAF in less than 24 hour flew seven different kinds of aircrafts to locate the chopper carrying the missing chief minister, using for the first time, its front line fighter aircraft Sukhoi 30- MKI along with the mid-air refueler IL-78 for the purpose.

The aircrafts used everything- their night flying capability, advanced cameras, ability to look deep into the forest and in pitch darkness to complete the mission.

The crashed chopper's last signal was received by Shamshabad and Chennai ATCs.

The SMS sent by one of the mobiles in the crashed chopper also helped a lot as the mobile network provider helped the aircraft in further zeroing in on the area.

A four square kilometer wide area was chalked out where the chopper could have fallen. Finally the coordinates were received at 154714 latitude and 784263 longitudes. The site was a small hill in the thick forest.

2nd September

1:15 PM- IAF received the first call about chief minister's chopper missing.

Within 15 minutes two Chetaks from Hakimpet Helicopter Training School were airborne

40 minutes later one Mi-8 joined in the operation from Yelahanka airbase in Karnataka

4:30 PM- One Dornier got airborne from Bangalore to look into the area covering Cuddapah, Sri Sailam, Chittoor.

5:00 PM- While Chetak continued its search operation one Avro airplane was pressed in service from Hyderabad.

6:30 pm- IAF sets up its own Operations Room at Kurnool coordinating with the aircrafts and the civil administration.

It was decided to flow in Sukhoi- 30 MKI from Bareilly along with IL-78 mid-air refueller from Agra for special search.

8:10 PM- Two Su-30 MKI along with one IL-78 starts scanning the area. The planes returned to their base by mid-night after a four hour long sortie.

The planes receive encouraging success by demarcating the possible area where the wreckage could have fallen.

September 3

2:10 AM- Another SU-30 MKI flies for a six hour long mission with an IL-78 for mid-air support. For the first time in the history of IAF a fighter aircraft was refuelled in the mid air in night.

The aircraft using its synthetic imaging capability locates the wreckage.

6:30 AM- Two Chetaks and one Mi-8 takes off to zero in on the area specified by the Su-30 MKI.

8:30 AM- Wreckage located and two police commandos alighted.

9:20 AM- Two more police commando were dropped in by one Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH)

Winching operation starts with the help of Mi-8 and ALHs. Choppers could not land at the wreckage site because of thick forest and high tree canopy.

Aircrafts used by the IAF

2 Chetaks helicopters
2 Mi-8 helicopters
2 Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH)
3 Su- 30 MKI
2 IL- 78 Mid-air refuelers
1 Avro
1 Dornier

Assumes charge

KOCHI: Rear Admiral H C S Bisht assumed charge as Flag Officer Sea Training at the Southern Naval Command during a brief ceremony at the Naval Base on Friday. He was earlier Chief of Staff of Southern Naval Command.Admiral Bisht was commissioned to the Executive Branch of the Indian Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer in July, 1979, and is a gunnery specialist. Admiral Bisht has also served as the Defence Attache to the High Commission of India, Singapore.The Admiral has completed a number of important afloat appointments, which include the Command of the missile corvette - INS Kora, which he commissioned, and Command of INS Tabar.

Russian Paper : Progress reported at Russian-Indian talks on aircraft carrier

The main result of the meeting between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Indian President Pratibha Patil in the Kremlin yesterday was progress in the dispute over the cost of modernizing the Admiral Gorshkov (INS Vikramatidya) aircraft carrier for the Indian Navy.
The two presidents did not however sign any documents after their meeting. New agreements will be signed in December, when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who holds the reins in India, comes to Moscow.
Although the president is largely a figurehead in India, Patil discussed several important issues with Medvedev, including the aircraft carrier.
Russian shipyard Sevmash has been modernizing the warship at the request of the Indian Defense Ministry since 2004. Initially, the contract was assessed at $750 million and India was to pay another $750 million for 16 deck-based MiG-29K fighter planes. The aircraft carrier, to be renamed INS Vikramaditya, was to be delivered to the Indian navy in 2012.
But some time ago Sevmash said the contract was worth much more, about $2.5 billion without the aircraft. India said it would not pay.
Sergei Chemezov, head of the Russian Technologies state corporation, and Nikolai Makarov, chief of Russia's General Staff, said yesterday that Russia and India had settled all disputes and expected the problem to be resolved in October.
The newspaper's sources are more cautious, though.
"Not all the disputed issues have been settled, and the signing of the documents in October is not guaranteed, but we may be ready to do so by December," said a source close to the talks.
Analysts say that India cannot walk out at this stage of the talks, which explains the latest progress.
Konstantin Makiyenko, deputy director of the Russian Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, said: "If India gives up the project now, it will not get the aircraft carrier, and even reimbursement of the funds and payment of penalties by Russia will not compensate the loss of time."
A brand-new aircraft carrier would cost India much more than modernization of the Admiral Gorshkov.

China’s military advantage over India vanishing

Toronto, ON, Canada, — The difference between China’s official words and actual deeds could lead to another conflict with India similar to the one in 1962.
First, China does not like India’s emerging status as a global power. Second, it is paranoid that if India completes its planned military purchases in the next five years, conquering and humiliating it would remain a distant dream. Third, China wants to grab the town of Tawang, birthplace of the current Dalai Lama, on the Indian side of the Tibet border. This is a symbolic Chinese ploy to let the Tibetans know who their real masters are.
China began a massive military exercise in mid-August called “Stride 2009,” deploying 50,000 troops in areas far from their home bases for live-fire drills. According to analysts, the exercise shows China’s readiness to respond quickly to unrest in any part of the country. It also demonstrates the effectiveness of China’s infrastructure, which allows the quick deployment of troops hundreds of miles away. The program culminates on Oct. 1, China’s 60th anniversary.
China maintains 30-40 divisions of reserve forces in its central provinces. But Tibet and the Indian border are outside this area of quick deployment, linked by a single rail line built on permafrost. While the exercise sheds lights on China’s reserve force, it is not India-specific yet. Still India, lately busy on the Pakistan border, may need to alter its defense posture.
China’s former leader Deng Xiaoping put the border dispute with India on the back burner in 1978. But he made an agreement with India that both countries would maintain a standstill in the Himalayas and avoid military build-up.
The promise held until 1998, when China began improving its military infrastructure in the Himalayas and building multiple missile bases. But it did not increase its ground forces, which stood at 200,000 soldiers.
India also kept its bargain and did not add a single soldier to its 30,000 in the east and 20,000 in the west. India even held off building new roads and improving infrastructure in its border areas. In hindsight that was a mistake.
Recently, China’s building of an intercontinental missile base at Delingha, north of Tibet, has set alarm bells ringing. Most of Russia and India are within its missile range, and being far from Taiwan keeps it sheltered from the U.S. gaze.
In the past 30 years India has held 13 high-level talks with China on the demarcation of the border, the last one in July this year. Each proved fruitless. China wants the Tawang tract and will not talk about vacating the Akash Chin plateau in Kashmir.
To make its point it has begun building more roads, missile bases and airfields in addition to its existing military infrastructure. It is also encouraging Nepal to enter into a free trade treaty, giving the Chinese an excuse to add more roads and possibly a rail link to bring them closer to India.
Tibet has become more restive in the past ten years. Last year’s pre-Olympic riots blew the lid off China’s tight security when its 200,000 force had to be split between law and order and border guard duties. While China marginally increased the force during the riots, India augmented its force only slightly. Now its military strength in Tibet is insufficient to conquer India or the Tawang tract, although border skirmishes remain a possibility.
India has its own evaluation of the China threat. A decision to engage China through diplomatic channels between 2001 and 2005 produced no results, so India decided to go for a military build-up. Eight mountain divisions trained to fight in the Himalayas will be augmented by two more, and an additional 60,000 ground troops will be sent to the east closer to Tawang and to the state of Sikkim. Also, some 20,000 additional troops will be added to the current strength in the west in Ladakh.
Three airfields lying derelict in the east and three in the west have been activated. A major airbase only 200 miles from the Tibetan border will be upgraded to serve India’s premier Sukhoi fighter. This airfield is a major threat to China’s rail link. India has also initiated other road-building activities. One will connect Ladakh with the rest of India via Manali-Rohtang. Another will connect Itanagar, capital of Arunachal Pradesh state, with neighboring Assam.
These developments could effectively neutralize China’s current advantage. Besides, Indian troops are much more capable in jungle and mountain warfare than they were in 1962. India’s conflict with Kashmir in Kargil in 1999 has presumably shown China that Indians cannot be beaten on the ground as easily as they were in 1962.
China won the 1962 battle with India by indulging in classic Chinese warfare tactics – confusing the enemy with conciliatory signals. On the ground, India had incompetent generals leading a brave bunch of soldiers. Additionally, Chinese soldiers had an advantage with their Soviet copies of German-designed submachine guns called “burp guns.” The rapid-fire submachine guns overwhelmed the Indians, who were carrying World War II Lee Enfield rifles.
Things have now changed; India’s current assault rifle is comparable to China’s and India’s generals have learned the art of war.
India will receive new military hardware in the next five years. Its newly commissioned nuclear submarine will be fully operational by 2012 or 2013, and the Russian aircraft carrier on order is expected to join the Indian navy. Indian-made light combat aircraft and imported medium combat aircraft will be operational in squadron strength.
All this hardware, plus ultra-light artillery fit for action in the Himalayas, will soon become operational. By 2014 India will have twice its current firepower and ten times that of 1962.
So China is planning a new strategy that includes cruise-missile attacks on the Indian heartland and confrontation on the high seas. The biggest threats to India are missiles launched from Tibet and China’s naval armada in the Indian Ocean.
Chinese cruise missiles with a range of 1,500 miles launched from Tibet and intermediate-range ballistic missiles launched from Delingha are big threats. India’s industrial heartland and military bases lie within their range, and new guidance systems make the missiles highly accurate. There is no known defense against a massed attack by some 200 cruise missiles. India’s only hope is that they would miss their targets after traveling 600 miles over the Himalayas.
China is depending most on its naval armada in the Indian Ocean. It has a surveillance station off the Myanmar coast and a newly built naval port in Gawdar, Pakistan. Both are militarily significant. But India counters this advantage with its naval base at the western mouth of the Gulf of Malacca on Andaman Island.
If an overconfident China decided to test Indian resolve by creating an incident, India could retaliate by capturing China’s surveillance base off the Myanmar coast. This could escalate hostilities, but China would risk losing its oil supplies if it stepped up the conflict.
It is pointless for China to wage war with India. Instead, the two countries should engage in greater trade and business, which can bring more prosperity. An unsuccessful invasion of India would be a terrible loss for the Chinese.

Efforts on to convert INS Bhavnagar into a museum

Glimpses of INS Bhavnagar and collector Pradip Shah(inset photo)

Bhavnagar District Collector Pradip Shah has initiated efforts to turn retired Indian Navy Minesweeper warship INS Bhavnagar into a permanent museum at Bhavnagar coast.
INS Bhavnagar was one of the naval ships that guarded Gujarat coast during Kargil war with 60 navy jawans including six officers aboard.
The ship has four anti-aircraft guns that can fire 2,000 bullets per minute. An additional gun could attack desired target within four km range. INS Bhavnagar is capable to fire five rockets at a time on the target within 2 kms. It is also capable to keep 36 rockets that can also be fired to damage enemy’s submarine inside the sea.
As the ship is named after the city of Bhavnagar, the district collector Pradip Shah has sought Indian Navy’s permission to convert this retired ship into a permanent museum.

Indian Navy crew to join Russian sub sea trials in Far East

Nuclear submarine

VLADIVOSTOK, September 4 (RIA Novosti) - A crew of Indian submariners will take part in sea trials of a Russian nuclear submarine in mid-September, a source involved in the trials said on Friday.
Russia's Nerpa nuclear attack submarine, damaged in a fatal accident during tests last November, resumed sea trials on July 10 in the Sea of Japan after extensive repairs that cost an estimated 1.9 billion rubles ($60 million).
The submarine is to be leased to the Indian Navy by the end of 2009 under the name INS Chakra.
The source said the Indian submariners would need to undergo a course of training together with Russian specialists and servicemen.
They will subsequently operate on their own under the supervision of Russian instructors.
On November 8, 2008, while the Nerpa was undergoing sea trials in the Sea of Japan, its on-board fire suppression system activated, releasing a deadly gas into the sleeping quarters. Three crewmembers and 17 shipyard workers were killed. There were 208 people, 81 of them submariners, on board the vessel at the time.
India reportedly paid $650 million for a 10-year lease of the 12,000-ton K-152 Nerpa, an Akula II class nuclear-powered attack submarine.
Akula II class vessels are considered the quietest and deadliest of all Russian nuclear-powered attack submarines.

Kashmiris relish drop in violence

PAHALGAM, India — In a famous picnic spot south of the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, the locals are back in force, having fun in scenes that were unimaginable during the dark days of the insurgency here.
For the first time in two decades, the people on the Indian side of this divided region live in relative peace, with tourists a more common sight and trekkers returning to the Himalayas that form a backdrop to life here.
"We are loving this peace," said Imtiaz Ahmed, one of eight men playing football on the shores of the Lidder river in Pahalgam, about 100 kilometres (62 miles) from the capital Srinigar.
Used to living in fear with restrictions on their movements, Kashmiris are re-discovering freedom as violence declines in this conservative Muslim-majority region once described by a 17th-century visiting emperor as a "paradise on earth."
While militant attacks still take place -- a grenade and a shooting incident in Srinigar this week left two policemen dead and nearly 30 others injured -- violence has fallen to the lowest level since 1989 when the rebellion began.
According to official police records published on Monday, killings have dropped to one a day from 10 daily in 2001 and a peak of 13 in 1996 when the anti-India insurgency was at its height.
College girls, many wearing make-up and some in Western-style dresses, stroll near the picnic site.
"This place is paradise and it is so beautiful when it's peaceful," said Nayeema Firdous as fellow students chanted Bollywood film songs.
Local tourist officials say they are turning away visitors from state-owned accommodation because they have no rooms left.
During the peak days of militancy, the area was deserted, forcing some shopkeepers out of businesses.
"The rush to Pahalgam is unprecedented," said Rouf Ahmed, a senior tourism official.
The spot has had its share of violence, including four attacks between 1999 and 2001 on Hindu pilgrims trekking that left over 60 people dead.
Six foreign tourists were abducted by rebels near Pahalgam in 1995. One escaped, one was beheaded and four others were never traced and are presumed dead.
Kashmiri violence has its roots in the partition of the subcontinent in 1947 when the Hindu leader of the Muslim-majority region opted to join India instead of Pakistan.
The region is now split between the two countries along a UN-monitored line of control, but both sides claim it in full and have fought two wars over the its control.
The struggle against Indian rule has left more than 47,000 people dead since it began in 1989, according to official figures. Human rights groups put the toll at 70,000 dead and missing.
Security officials acknowledge the recent change, though there are no plans to reduce troop levels.
"The level of violence has come down and there are significant signs of normalcy in Kashmir," says Indian army spokesman J.S. Brar.
He attributes the turnaround to "people's desire for peace and more effective counter-insurgency tactics."
"More and more people are providing us with information about militants," he added.
Many link the decline in violence to a peace process started between India and Pakistan in 2004 to resolve all their pending disputes, including the one on Kashmir.
India has put a pause on the process, however, after last year's deadly Mumbai attacks which it blames on Pakistan-based militants.
In Srinagar, Tariq Dar, a 34-year-old engineer who grew up during the worst of the violence, said the calm was "bringing smiles to all the faces here."
At dawn, he and his friends set out for a daily morning walk in a picturesque area of the city that until recently was out of bounds because of its proximity to the residences of top politicians.
"I had never imagined that this road would be reopened. It signals peace is here to stay," says Dar, who aspires for an independent Kashmir state.
Later in the day, hundreds of residents could be spotted in Mughal-built gardens on the shores of Lake Dal, again enjoying picnics with their families.
The few liquor shops that have reopened are doing brisk business and in the evenings, young men and women crowd restaurants that used to shut by 6pm during the peak of unrest.
After the insurgency erupted in 1989, 51-year-old Abdul Rashid tried unsuccessfully to sell his ornately handcarved tourist houseboat to feed his family.
He is now grateful as visitors return and is leading trekkers up the mountains that were once considered too dangerous to visit.
"Going back to these mountains was my big wish. Thanks to Allah, the peace has made it happen," he said.
In 1988 more than 700,000 foreign and Indian tourists visited Kashmir, but the number declined sharply as the insurgency intensified.
Now the tide appears to be turning again.
In 2007, nearly 450,000 tourists visited, followed by 550,000 a year later. And in the first seven months of 2009 more than 380,000 tourists had already come to sample the pure air and breathtaking views.

Drawing inspiration from Colachal

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Officers’ Mess at Pangode Military Station here now is in proud possession of a painting that depicts a slice of history from the annals of Travancore State Forces.Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma of the Travancore Royal Family on Friday presented a painting showing the surrender of Dutch forces before the Travancore State Forces in 1741.The painting, which was received by Pangode Station Commander Brigadier Cherish Matheson, has Captain De Lannoy of the Dutch Navy surrendering to the then Maharaja of Travancore.In a simple function held at Pangode Brigade Officers’ Mess, Marthanda Varma also handed over the crest of the Madras Regiment done in sand and a photograph that showed the lowering of Union Jack in front of the Travancore Forces, when he was 14 years of age.According to Marthanda Varma, it was probably the only instance when the Union Jack was lowered in front of any power other than the King or Queen of England. The 16 Madras Battalion of the Indian Army, presently stationed in Pangode, was created with the merger of Travancore State forces.Marthanda Varma appreciated the efforts of the Indian Army in reviving the forgotten history by conducting a War Memorial Service on July 25 at Colachal.The battle of Colachal was fought between Travancore Forces and the Dutch Navy in 1741 and its significance lies in the fact that for the first time, a leading European military power was defeated by any Asian Power, both on land and sea. Brigadier Cherish Matheson, thanking Marthanda Varma for his magnanimity, said that the painting will inspire the generations to follow. He called it a good omen for the Amphibious Brigade, which is being raised in Pangode.

Centre directs Manipur govt to rein in commandos

New Delhi, Sept 4 (Agencies): Disturbed over protests against alleged high-handedness of police commandos in Manipur, the Centre has directed the state government to rein in personnel of the special force and verify their antecedents before recruitment. Official sources said Home Secretary G K Pillai has directed Director General of Police Y Jokumar and Chief Secretary D S Poonia that complaints against commandos of Manipur Police have been increasing and there was a need to rein them in.

“The Home Secretary directed the DGP to ensure discipline in the commando force and properly verify each personnel before recruitment,” an official said. Pillai had cited the recent unrest arising out of the July 23 incident in which police commandos killed a youth in an alleged fake encounter.

A pregnant woman was also allegedly killed by stray bullets during an encounter, leading to protests by locals. Sources said the Centre was taking the complaints against the commandos seriously and trying to bring peace by pacifying agitating people of Manipur, which is considered to be the most troubled state in the Northeast.

Chandel ex-armymen insist they were cheated by bank

IMPHAL, Sep 4: Chandel District Ex-servicemen’s Association has once again charged the branch manager, State Bank of India Chakpikarong operating from Kakching for defrauding some bank accounts belonging to Army pensioners.

According to a press communique of the Association, there have been many irregularities in terms of transfering of accounts, unauthorised closure of bank accounts and force encentive imposed upon the Army pensioners by the branch manager of SBI Chakpikarong.

The statement disclosing facts and circumstances of different fraudulant activities committed by the said branch manager, mentioned that the balances of A/C No. 11860743467, A/C No. 11860755869 belonging to army pensioners were found fraudulantly transfered to A/C No. 30644212885 belonging to one Chitrabhon Singh, without the knowledge and consent of the pensioners.

Further it alledged that the bank A/C No. 11860745409 of Lh Anghlung, Army pensioner was found closed on February this year without the knowledge and concent of the customer and account balance amounting Rs. 7,333 was pocketed by the very branch manager. To this effect Lh Anghlung was compelled to open a fresh account with the same bank on April 4 this year for the purpose of drawing his pension as he has not recieved pension since February to August. 2009 and the matter has already reported to Pension Adalat, Allahabad.

The statement further charged that at the time of payment of pension, all the Army pensioners were made compulsary contribution of Rs 100 per head per month as incentive. Above this there were many cases that, in absence of pensioner (S) in the bank premises, pensions are withrawn by way of forging their signatures and thereafter the amounts are distributed house to house of the pensioners after deduction of certain amount not less than Rs 300 per head.

The statement also mentioned that a sum of Rs. 15,000 belonging to late Ws Solomon Anal was found withrawn by way of forging the signature of the deceased pensioner on June 30 last being pensions for the three months. In the meantime after deducting Rs. 1000 a sum of Rs. 14,000 was handed over to the mother of the deceased pensioner at her residence by the bank staff.

However, the amount was returned to the bank staff with a direction that the amount should be deposited in the account without further delay for the reason that the pensioner is already dead and the dead cannot go to the bank and withraw his pension. While updating the pass book on August 31 last month it was found that the said amount Rs 15,000 have not be deposited, therefore, SBI Chakpikarong branch operating at Kakching is a wonderful bank where dead can also draw money from his account the statement added.

Further, it is charged that the bank manager of the said bank has refused to paid the pensions for the last month to one of the pensioner identified as Hav Py Runhring who is an account holder, without giving any reason.

Considering all this malpractices committed at SBI Chakpikarong branch operating from Kakching the ex-servicemen’s assocition, Chandel assumbed and claimed that the very bank could have been averted and further drawn the state chief minister for providing adequade security guards for SBI Chakpikarong branch and made it operate at Chakpikarong sub-division head quarter in order to ease the grievances facing by the pensioners and public of the areas.

The statement also further mentioned that, since so called SBI Chakpikarong branch is covered by core banking facilities and above charges of many malpractices can be confirmed from day to day transaction records of the bank from the computer which the bank is using and warned the manager of the very bank not to provoke the sleeping dog, less ligitation against his corruption shall be lodged in the competent court and consequences shall be graved, the statement added.

Military Balance And Partition

A small number of Englishmen (about two lacs) ruled India, a vast country with a population of 400 millions. How could they do it? Their strategy was military control and creation of vested interests bound up with British rule.  The princes and zamindars were given privileges and they wanted the British to rule India. After a few decades of great revolt of 1857, the British became pro-Muslims to convert them to support British rule.  Wavell considered Muslims loyalist like princes.
According to Lord Roberts, the Commander in Chief in the beginning of 20th century, "Respect based on fear was key to rule in India. Remove the fear and respect will soon disappear." British Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury added that British rule depended on resort to force enormously enhanced by reputation of invincibility.  The British kept aloof from Indians. But the racial superiority shown by English Sahibs created revulsion among Indians gradually.  Gandhiji's non-cooperation movements restored self- respect to Indians. They did not feel inferior to Englishmen as they did earlier. The easy Japanese victories in South East Asia and Burma during December 1941 to May 1942 destroyed the myth of European invincibility. The record of British in Malaya and Burma was extremely poor, though the British propaganda kept the truth hidden from most of the world.
During the pre war period, the British had a strategy to suppress the mutiny of Indian soldiers should it occur. The proportion of British soldiers to Indian soldiers was one to two. The British troops were kept inside the country to serve as internal security troops. The greater part of Indian troops was part of field army for service abroad and on the frontier. More effective weapons were with the British and not given to Indians. Commissioned Officers, the brain of the army, were mostly British. All this changed due to exigencies of war and the British desire to save their own blood. To fight against the Japanese, the British created an Indian army of two and a half million men. The Indians had to be given modern arms: number of Indian officers greatly increased, the proportion of Muslims to Hindus changed. Before the war, more than 50% of Indian troops were Muslims. The figure fell to 25% at the war end. The British had become too confident due to their experience in WW I. In the prewar period the British had kept fair number of Sikhs in the group of non-Muslim soldiers, as Hindus mainly were asking for freedom. Thus the British could not militarily control India, even if Muslims joined them. Number of British soldiers in India was still 70,000. When General Wavell traveled with Churchill in 1943 on the way to the US, he rebuked Wavell for creating a Frankenstien by putting modern weapons in the hands of Sepoys. Wavell still believed in the loyalty of Indian Sepoys and disagreed. He thought that Churchill had 19th century mind. Churchill, the politician, was correct. 
Many events happened during WW II and immediately after war end. The "Quit India" movement was very widespread and stronger than 1857 revolt.  This fact was suppressed during the war period by the British. Subhash Chandra Bose raised Indian Nation Army in 1943. Though I.N.A. could not free India by invasion, the British began to have doubts about the loyalty of Indian Army. To teach a lesson to Indians, the British put on trial three Indian National Army officers. This boom-ranged and affected Indian soldiers. Britain, France and Holland had to give up their rule in South East Asia during the war. To justify their own desire for rule, the British wanted their rule restored in S.E. Asia.  They had become too weak to fulfill their wish to rule again Indo China and Indonesia. They could not take surrender from the Japanese at war end.  Britain sent Indian troops there to take surrender from Japanese.  After taking surrender from the Japanese, the British commander used them to suppress the freedom movements there, Congress said that Indian troops were not mercenaries and should not be used to restore colonial rule there.  Commander in chief, Auchinleck feared that Indian troops might not obey orders to fire on the natives. It is important to note that it was Atlee and his Labor government, which sent Indian troops to Indo-China and Indonesia to suppress independence in these countries. This proves that Atlee and Labor Party were imperialist and were not in favor of giving independence to India. The contrary is wrongly believed by millions in India even now. Realizing that Indian troops were no more loyal to Britain, Wavell wrote in December 1945 to home government in top-secret letter a blue print of partition and Pakistan, which was needed in the interest of worldwide British Empire. The aim was to protect Soviet expansion to Indian Ocean in west Asia and oil wells there.
When Cabinet Delegation came to India on March 23, 1946 with partition plan based on Wavell's letter, Wavell wrote to them on March 29 a military appreciation about situation in India, pointing out the weak British position, and the trump card of ability to blockade India to prevent essential supplies like petrol, kerosene etc.  The appreciation was correct. At the same time he started making Break Down plans in case Indian Army revolted.  Wavell wanted to use military force to impose his partition plan if Congress did not agree. British government rejected Wavell's Break Down plans, as use of military to partition India, in their opinion, would have created deep enmity feeling against Britain. It wanted to show that partition was due to disagreement between Congress and Muslim League.  Hence, Atlee decided to replace Wavell with Mountbatten in December 1946. He fired Wavell in March 1947 for repeatedly insisting on adoption of his Break Down plan. (though Azad had incorrectly said that Wavell resigned due to disagreement with British government).
In the mean time, Patel had decided in December 1946, to agree to partition to save India. In January 1947, he and V.P. Menon made a partition plan, which was in the hands of Mountbatten before coming to India in March 1947. On February 17, 1947, Patel told Wavell that he was prepared to let Muslims have Pakistan in Western Punjab, Sindh and N.W.F.P., if they desired it and East Bengal. Final partition was carried out almost according to Patel's plan. Mountbatten was able to show that partition was due to agreement between Jinnah and Congress, though the British were opposed to partition.

Army, IGNOU ink MoU to grant degrees to soldiers

New Delhi: Indian Army and IGNOU today signed an MoU to grant degrees to soldiers, with the aim of providing a second career option to them.

"We have signed the MoU by which we will ensure that all army men who retire from now onwards have graduation degrees, which will enable them to go for a second career and also enhance the amount of workforce in the country," Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor told reporters after the signing of the MoU.

The project named 'Gyandeep', will help to confer a graduation degree to soldiers who join the force just after school. Based on US' community college system, the project is expected to benefit the 1.2 million soldiers in the Army.

The MoU was signed by Army's Adjutant General Lt Gen Mukesh Sabharwal and IGNOU Vice Chancellor Professor V N Rajasekharan Pillai in the presence of the Army Chief at South Block today.

Under the project, soldiers would be provided with bachelors degrees in arts, commerce, management and various other disciplines, which will be market driven and help them to secure jobs for the jawans.

Under the new arrangement, IGNOU will register Army's regimental training centres and schools as 'community colleges'. The Army-IGNOU Community Colleges will continue functioning as autonomous bodies conducting examinations and their courses.

India may be forced to act: Army Chief

NEW DELHI: Indian Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor has indicated that India is losing patience over frequent cease-fire violations by Pakistan along the Line of Control and warned that at some stage it would have to retaliate. General Kapoor also claimed that reports about Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal needed to be confirmed and after that New Delhi could think about reviewing its own nuclear strategy.Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a function, General Kapoor said that firing across the LoC was part of the Pakistan army’s tactics to push infiltrators through. His comments followed a recent cease-fire violation in the Punchh sector in which an Indian soldier was killed.General Kapoor said India would be forced to take action if cease-fire violations were not checked.General Kapoor, who recently said that Pakistan’s nuclear assets had surpassed the limits of deterrence, said reports about Islamabad’s capabilities needed to be verified. The nuclear rhetoric between India and Pakistan has gone up in recent weeks.There has been talk among Indian nuclear scientists that it might need another test to validate the thermonuclear device, despite the fact that A P J Kalam claimed the test of the hydrogen bomb in 1998 was a success.