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Friday, September 25, 2009

Army forgets martyr’s memorial

Abohar, September 24
While two municipal employees performed the annual exercise of washing the memorial of Major Surinder Prasad here, no representative of the Indian Army turned up this time to lay wreaths or offer the customary salute to the war hero who had laid down his life on September 23, 1965, during the India-Pakistan war.

Till last year, Army men had been giving a fresh coat of paint to the memorial besides unfolding the red carpet before paying homage at the maiden memorial.
In the “Pay homage to your martyrs” website of the Indian Army, the name of Major Surinder Prasad figures at the top of the list of the two war heroes from Maratha Light Infantry who sacrificed their lives during Operation Riddle. He was awarded Veer Chakra and promoted as Major posthumously.


Indian Postal Service (IPS) officers belonging to the 1999 batch have been elevated to the Junior Administrative Grade (JAG) GP 7600.


Some 150 Group A officers recruited in the CISF through the civil services examination and put in the CISF by the Department of Personnel and Training in the 1990s feel cheated as they are still middle-rung officers stuck in pay band III (commandant/deputy secretary rank) while their batchmates in other services like the Indian Revenue Service or Indian Railway Traffic Service have moved to pay band IV (director/joint secretary).

Deadly sky spy

If the tiny villages in the northwestern areas of Pakistan present a picture of pre-medieval life, that’s only one side of the story. The hamlets — and even towns — in Pakistan’s troubled stretches bordering Afghanistan are under the world’s scanner for another reason too. It’s one place where high-tech military activity is taking place.

For a while now, the rugged terrain of NWFP is not the only aspect of this region that has made its inhabitants, mainly Pashtuns, tough and durable. The men, women and children who live here have been hardened by its blood-soaked history. Of late, it is in these remote corners of the world that the US military is hunting

al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters and in the process — even more importantly — re-defining the way wars will be fought in the future.

Since 2008, the US Central Intelligence Agency has killed an estimated 500 people in air strikes launched from thousands of miles away to hit targets deep inside Pakistan. These “kills” were not “scored” by glamorous fighter pilots firing missiles and dropping bombs from fifth generation stealth combat jets.

The job has been done by weapon carrying drones, or the unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) in military parlance. Piloted from thousands of miles away, these remotely controlled aircraft almost literally spot, hunt and eliminate their targets. They accomplish complicated military missions without risking a

pilot’s life and cost much less.

In more than 50 drone missions launched so far, the growing kill-list has names of some of the big terror leaders, from Abu Laith al-Libi of al Qaeda to the most wanted head of Pakistan Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud who was eliminated on August 5 in one such raid when the missiles struck from nowhere in sky. While the US is fighting its war with the help of sophisticated pieces of machinery, the world is keeping close watch. The effectiveness of drones has been talked about, written and analysed by military experts all over the world.

Futuristic tech

A unanimous view is that the future belongs to this missile firing aircraft. So much so that it might eclipse the development of future manned combat jets. Most of the modern air forces in the world fly fourth general fighter jets which are known for their multi-role capabilities, making them suitable for air-to-air and air-to-ground roles.

This is the time in military aviation history when fifth generation fighters are knocking on the door. The US already operates F-22 Raptors and other countries are striving hard to catch up. India too is in the race to producing a fifth generation fighter with the help of Russia, known as PAK-FA. It could well be the last of the generations of combat jets as they might eventually share their work with unmanned combat aerial vehicles. Not many countries have been able to achieve what the US has done in the field of these remote controlled aircraft.

Drones have been in business for several years now. But they were mainly used for reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition purposes. They were the spies in the skies playing a key role in planning military missions by guiding artillery and missile units in identifying targets. By giving it the capability to launch a missile, a drone has acquired new meaning in modern warfare. It is now a battle-tested technology. A rush has already begun to include drones in military strategies. The other countries of the world are in this race and so is India.

India in the queue

What was merely a concept till some years ago has now become a reality much before anyone had expected. As a result of this, India has been left far behind in developing this technology. The country has been one of the biggest buyers of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which are extensively used by all three services. In the absence of any credible effort to make UAVs at home, it has to rely heavily on foreign vendors. Israel fulfills much of India’s requirements for UAVs.

The Defence Research and Development has been working on the Nishant UAV, which has an endurance of four and a half hours, for more than two decades now. Its longer endurance version Rustam is in the pipeline. But when it comes to producing an UCAV, India is an upstart. The defence scientific establishment has talked about producing a light combat aircraft (LCA) followed by a Medium Combat Aircraft and then a UCAV.

The future looks uncertain as even the LCA project is running several years behind schedule. The armed forces are convinced that India will have to develop UCAV at home as they will never be able to acquire the technology from foreign vendors. “Nobody is going to give us this technology, we need to develop it at home,” says former Indian Air Force chief Fali Homi Major. He describes the UCAVs as “a very very great force multiplier for national security environment and a developing technology”, adding that they have proved to be a very useful tool in Afghanistan.

Major strongly supports indigenous efforts to develop UCAVs. “The DRDO has a project going, but it will be very difficult to give a time frame to develop this technology,” he notes. “All I can say is that they are progressing well.”

The DRDO’s programme is meant to be a technology demonstrator. The weaponisation of a UAV is a complex task as it would involve developing a highly manoeuverable aircraft possibly with stealth features assisted by a complicated network system and data link for real time transmission. Another challenge would be the time frame.

The former air chief might be willing to give a long handle in terms of time; the DRDO’s record on this count leaves much to be desired. Vice admiral (retd) A K Singh, who was director general Coast Guard and also headed the tri-service Andaman and Nicobar command, is not optimistic. “Their track record is zero,” he maintains, talking about all major key projects from the LCA to the Main Battle Tank Arjun — all of which have been lingering for several years. Singh, a submariner himself and expert on nuclear technology, claimed that the DRDO has been a big let down when it comes to delivery of key technology.

The retired admiral says combat drones can venture into areas where one cannot risk sending a traditional fighter jet — in high-risk dense-air defence environment. The unarmed UAVs, he notes, have been used effectively by all the three services. “The advantage of a drone is that even if it is shot down by the enemy, you don’t lose much,” he points out, citing the standoff between India and Pakistan during early years of 2000 when an Indian UAV was shot down near Lahore.

Islamabad’s alacrity

There is a need to hurry if one takes a look around at what others are doing. Pakistan has been clamouring for drone technology. Since drones are being used inside its territory, the Pakistani leadership has made several public statements asking the US administration to pass on the technology to launch these strikes.

Till the homegrown UCAVs are available, the Indian armed forces will have to rely

on support from the foreign companies. Israel’s Harpy drone, which is used to destroy radar systems, is being sold to India. The army is keen to acquire the Israeli system. In the absence of help from the US, it would try to produce its own UCAV with the help of its strategic military partner China. There are reports about Pakistan making its Uqaab UAV capable of firing a missile.

China has an active plan to develop its own UCAV. As in other cases, little is known about the progress made by the Chinese on this front except what is available in the public domain of the cyber world. The use of combat drones in India’s neighbourhood has certainly not gone unnoticed. When the infantry commanders met for their annual meeting in Mhow (in western Madhya Pradesh) last week, military operations in Swat and other areas of Af-Pak was a major point of discussion.

Apart from analysing these operations, the commanders also held a brainstorming session on technologies of the future that have arrived in the region. The message has sunk in. The combat drone technology at the moment is only with the US and it will not pass it on to any other country. The experts believe India will have to keep its options open as it prepares its armed forces for future challenges.

Going by the expenditure projections on UAVs for the next two years, the services are likely to spend thousands of crores of rupees. The navy has a budget of around Rs 630 crore for UAVs. Army’s infantry has projected requirement of 127 UAVs. Similarly, signal has a budget of Rs 1,300 crore. The artillery has a plan for weaponisation of Israeli Heron UAVs and the IAF is looking to acquire a UAV simulator. There is a need to integrate resources and come out with a credible solution to arm the drones.

Stealth factor

A UAV is defined as a reusable, uncrewed vehicle capable of controlled, sustained, level flight and powered by a jet or reciprocating engine. Currently, military UAVs perform reconnaissance as well as attack missions.  The abbreviation UAV has been expanded in some cases to UAVS (unmanned-aircraft vehicle system) to denote the fact that these are not just aircraft but systems that incorporate ground stations and other elements UCAVs are a very very great force multiplier for national security environment and a developing technology

— Fali Homi Major, former Indian Air Force chief

The advantage of a drone is that even if it is shot down by the enemy, you don’t lose much.

— A K Singh,

Vice Admiral (retd)

Thrilling drill

MYSORE: Though for 10 minutes, the air warriors were the cynosure of all eyes at the Bannimantap torchlight parade grounds on Thursday. 

For the first time, a group of 18 personnel attached to the Indian Air Force, presented a drill that thrilled thousands of audience. Spectators were dumbstruck as the men in blue, carrying 5.5-kg rifle, offered an astonishing show. Apart from formations like V, alternate line, etc, what was gripping was exchanging of rifles while walking. 

Air Marshal K K Nohwar and Air Vice Marshal S P Singh were present

The pilot who is a fighter


M P Anil Kumar was a dashing MiG-21 pilot in the Indian Air Force when a road accident left him paralaysed below the neck. He was just 24.

For the past 19 years he has lived in the military's Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre in Pune and has become an inspiration to many in the manner in which he has picked up the threads of his life.

Today Anil Kumar uses a keyboard with his mouth and is a gifted writer whose by-line readers will instantly recognise. An article he wrote about his disability was so inspirational that it found its way in school textbooks in Maharashtra.
Nitin Sathe, who was in the same course as Anil Kumar at the National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla, pays tribute to this amazing fighter as we continue our series on Extraordinary Indians.

If you ever visit the Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre at Khadki, Pune, in the very first room, you will meet retired Flying Officer M P Anil Kumar, fondly called MP by those who know him.

On his wheelchair, sitting at the computer and pecking away at the keyboard with a mouth-held stick, MP keeps churning out articles with a finesse and class that few writers can only dream of. You can read a lot of his writings on varied topics, on as well as in some national dailies.

MP is a quadriplegic. He was paralysed neck below due to a motorcycle accident on his way back from the squadron after night flying on June 28, 1988. The accident confined him to a wheelchair for life.

Eight years before that fateful night, MP, all of 16, had reported to the National Defence Academy in Pune as a fresh cadet. Just out of the Sainik School Kazhakootam, he had wanted to join the Indian Air Force and fly the fast and furious fighter jets, a dream of every young man.

MP comes from a small village about 35 kilometres from Thiruvananthapuram. At the age of 9, he left home to join the Sainik School. After spending some time there he made up his mind to join the air force one day.

Like the 288 from our batch, he underwent training at the NDA for three years. Thrown in the cauldron of multi-faceted, multi-dimensional training, the cadets hardly got enough time to interact with each other, primarily because of the fact that there is no time from rigorous training. In the little spare time that we managed, most flocked together as 'school types' or 'place types' or 'lingo types.'

Image: M P Anil Kumar at his desk at the Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre in Pune
Photographs: Seema Pant

Russia concludes third stage of trials on Nerpa nuclear attack submarine

08:02 GMT, September 24, 2009 KHABAROVSK | Russia's Nerpa nuclear attack submarine, damaged in a fatal accident during tests in November last year, successfully completed the third stage of sea trials, the governor of the Khabarovsk Territory said on Wednesday according to RIA Novosti.

"The submarine is in a good state of readiness and there is confidence that it will be commissioned on time," Vyacheslav Shport said.

The vessel resumed sea trials on July 10 in the Sea of Japan following extensive repairs.

On November 8, 2008, while the Nerpa was undergoing sea trials, its onboard 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, onboard the vessel at the time.

Following the repairs, which cost an estimated 1.9 billion rubles ($60 million), the submarine was cleared for final sea trials before being commissioned with the Russian Navy, and will be leased to the Indian Navy by the end of 2009 under the name INS Chakra.

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.

Maritime India cruises to power

New Delhi, India — Chanakya, prime minister and adviser to the emperor in India’s Maurya dynasty (340-293 B.C.) famously wrote in a treatise some 2,000 years ago, “The geography of a country determines its history.” India straddles three important waterways that are crucial to the present globalized world, dependent on sea trade.
The Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean are the new “Silk Routes” for commerce and trade. Countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East and Oceania are dependent on these sea routes for energy as well as commodity imports and exports, especially large producers of oil and gas that are geographically located around these waters.
Large cargo vessels that ferry industrial goods from Europe and the United States also depend on safe passage through the three waterways, where even a minor hiccup can cause acute financial distress.
It took many years after India gained independence in 1947 for the country to start thinking about becoming a maritime power, both economically and militarily. This determination followed the oil shock of 1970 when the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries was formed and the economies of the world plunged into recession.
Militarily, India realized its potential as a naval power during the 1971 war with Pakistan, when its strategy to control the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal succeeded in ensuring victory in East Pakistan, which became Bangladesh. What struck military analysts was the impotence of the United States and China to come to the succor of Pakistan. Even the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Enterprise rapidly withdrew from the area after receiving intelligence of a kamikaze raid by the Indian Air Force in the Bay of Bengal.
India’s naval muscle has grown since then, although much remains to be achieved as a commercial maritime nation whose trade volume is over 80 percent by sea. The infrastructure of Indian ports needs upgrading to be on par with world-class standards. More ports similar to India’s largest private port Mundra in the Indian state of Gujarat need to be built by the private sector in all coastal states of India.
The events of 1999 leading to the Kargil conflict with Pakistan were the second time India used its naval power to coerce Pakistan into submission. The deployment of submarines in the Arabian Sea rapidly brought Pakistan’s economy to a grinding halt.
Western powers and Pakistan’s donors realized the futility of war with India and forced former Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to seek peace, as their sea trade was also being affected by crippling rates of war insurance for all sea traffic east of the Suez Canal and west of the Malacca Strait.
The strong sea pincer denial strategy of the Indian government forced former U.S. President Bill Clinton to summon Sharif to Washington. An astonished international community sat up and took notice, for the first time since 1971, of India’s growing naval power and its strategic geo-political importance.
But military power wielded by a country is dependent on its economic strength. History, both ancient and modern, has shown how wars bleed a nation’s economy. Although today’s modern powers seek peace and dialogue as the first step toward conflict resolution, they also invest heavily in modernizing their military capabilities to deter any country seeking hegemony of its region. Some countries raise their military budgets while curtailing the standard of living of their citizens.
Ocean and coast management can improve global governance. A recent treaty, signed by 91 countries including China and India in Rome in early September to halt illegal fishing, can help poor nations. If enforced, it will prevent fishing boats from landing in various ports if inspectors deem the catch to be illegally procured.
As per available data presented during the Rome Agreement, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing worldwide amounts to between 11 and 26 million tons of catch annually with a market value of around US$23 billion.
Coastal states like Somalia have politically collapsed since 1991 when former President Siad Barre’s government was overthrown. Around 700 unlicensed foreign fishing vessels moved into the fish-rich seas of Somalia and indulged in illegal fishing, according to a U.N. report, and decimated its coastal zones. The locals, unable to eke a living, identified a more violent and lucrative business by hijacking cargo ships and demanding ransom for the kidnapped crew.
The European Union, China, Taiwan and South Korea are some of the largest consumers of such illegal fishing and for decades have been turning a blind eye to the catch landing at their ports.
Sea piracy rampant in the Horn of Africa was the cry of these nations while pirate fishing vessels looted with impunity. Warships were dispatched to protect their fishing trawlers and refrigeration ships and the principle of freedom of the seas.
If all signatories ratify the Rome Agreement by the end of 2009, a methodology will be brought in to inspect and verify whether the catch landing at a designated port is legal. Leadership of this order and magnitude has to be provided by India as littoral countries around the Indian Ocean region are weak at sea and cannot carry out effective patrolling.
India, despite being a nuclear weapons power, has a stated policy of “no first use.” However, this has not prevented the government from modernizing its defense capabilities. The economy has grown by leaps and bounds since 1999 and significant capabilities have been added to modernize its armed forces. The recent launch of its nuclear powered submarine INS Arihant is a step in the right direction.
As a major power in Asia in the maritime sphere, the Indian navy represents the strategic second-strike capability in the event of any foreign attack on its soil. However, despite limitations and differences, it needs to be understood internationally that India cannot be cowed by any other power. This is due to its fortuitous geographical position in the Indian Ocean, as Chanakya wrote.
(Captain Devindra Sethi is an alumnus of India's National Defense Academy, the College of Defense Management, the College of Naval Warfare, and the War College in St. Petersburg, Russia. He is a successful entrepreneur in the maritime industry and fluent in English, Russian and Hindi. ©Copyright Devindra Sethi.)      

Navy wants its buildings taken off protected list

MUMBAI: The Indian Navy has requested state-appointed heritage committee to take several of its colonial buildings, including barracks and office buildings constructed in neo-classical style, off the list of protected structures. 

In a letter to the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC), the Navy has requested structures in Colaba's naval area be de-notified as it does not make sense to approach MHCC to take permission for every renovation, restoration and repair work. "A permanent `blanket cover' to carry out repairs in and around heritage structures would mean the Navy may not need to approach us on a case by case basis. According to them, such a permission will help in efficient maintenance of heritage buildings,'' said a member of MHCC. 

In 1999, the Navy had commissioned a systematic inventory of all heritage buildings it owned in Mumbai. But heightened security measures over the years have ensured public access to some of Mumbai's oldest colonial buildings remained limited. Many of island city's listed grade I heritage structures, including Ballard Bunder Gatehouse, Heritage Hall and Portuguese Sundial in Naval Dockyard, are located inside restricted naval areas. 

The Ballard Bunder Gatehouse is, in fact, the Navy's official entry to this year's UNESCO heritage awards. Conservation architects and experts, who have worked hard with the Navy to bring these colonial structures in public domain, said such a permission, if given, would hit further attempts to conserve Mumbai's oldest buildings. 

"It is surprising that Indian Navy, which takes great pride in the upkeep of these buildings, has sought such a permission,'' said historian Sharda Dwivedi, who co-authored a coffee-table book on heritage structures in naval areas. MHCC chairman Dinesh Afzalpurkar said the Navy's request has to be studied carefully before any decision is taken. "It would be difficult to give such a blanket permission to the Navy,'' he said.

Indian Armys 19 Maratha Light Infantry celebrates Diamond Jubilee

Gangtok, Sep 24 - ANI: The 19th battalion of the Maratha Light Infantry celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of its merger with Indian Army from the earst while British Army on Wednesday.

Maratha Light Infantry is one of the oldest infantry units of the Indian Army.

The unit also celebrated the day as the Battle Honour Day in the lofty hills of Sikkim, where it is deployed.

General Officer Commanding, Black Cat Division, Major General R.S.Chopra, released a First Day Cover published by Armys postal service to mark the occasion.

The unit has the unique distinction of being part of all the operations and wars in the post Independence period and has won a number of gallantry awards. 

The celebrations were spread over three days from September 21 to 23 in which many veteran officers of the unit and their family members were present on the occasions. 

The unit also conducted a social charity work at Padma Odzer School Chadmari, Gangtok for the needy and underprivileged students.

It is also undertaking a unique High Altitude Area afforestation project to mark the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. - ANI

Old grenades creating problems for Indian Army

New Delhi, Sep 24 (IANS) Old grenades are proving to be a problem area for the Indian Army, the officer responsible for maintaining quality assurance admitted Thursday.
“They (the grenades) are very old. They are of vintage quality and we are looking into it,” Lt. Gen. J.S. Dhillon, who heads the Directorate General of Quality Assurance (DGQA), told reporters here.

There have been reports of late that 30 percent of the grenades used in counter-insurgency operations fail to explode. Others take up to four seconds to explode — 1.5 seconds longer than those used by militants.
The defence ministry has sought an immediate report on this.
“The grenades are very old. The detonators’ shelf life is over, creating the problem we have in hand,” another senior Indian Army official told IANS, requesting anonymity.
The DGQA, in association with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), has finalised the design for a new grenade to resolve the problem.
“The new design by DRDO is already in place and hopefully it will soon be operational,” Dhillon added.

Two top terrorists killed in Kashmir encounter

SRINAGAR: A day after two fierce encounters ended in north Kashmir, troops killed a self-styled divisional commander of Hizbul Mujahideen Pir Panchal Regiment and his accomplice at Damhal Hanjipora in Kulgam district of South Kashmir on Thursday. 

The slain militants were identified as Saddam and Saifullah alias Basharat, a self-styled deputy commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba, defence spokesman Col. Uma Mashewar said. The two were active in the region for the last 12 years, Col Uma said. Saddam had taken over as the self-styled chief commander of the outfit after the killing of Abu Dujana last year. 

The two terrorists were confronted by a joint party of Special Operations Group of police and 9 Rashtriya Rifles at Damhal forest of Kulgam, about 70 km from Srinagar, during a search operation. Around 3.30 am the security personnel asked the two terrorists to surrender. 

This resulted in a gunbattle which ended at 7.45 am after the two terrorists were killed by the troops, Col Uma said. Two AK rifles, six magazines and a large quantity of ammunition were recovered from them. 

The killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Saddam comes a day after gunning down of two top commanders of Hizbul Mujahideen, Pasha and Mussa, at Baniyar Ajus in Bandipore district of north Kashmir. A Major and a Marine Commando were also killed. 

Defence spokesman Lt Col Brar said the operation at Bandipora, where two top militant commanders were killed, was called off late Wednesday evening while the combing operations were on in the forest area of Panzla in Baramulla district where two terrorists and two soilders were killed.

IIT faculty: why the cap on promotion?


Parul Sharma

— Photo: V.V. Krishnan 

IIT professors observing a hunger strike on the issue of pay structure on the IIT campus in Delhi on Thursday.

NEW DELHI: More than 300 faculty members and scientific staff members of the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi observed a day-long fast here on Thursday protesting against some clauses in the pay package offered to them.
However, the faculty claimed that classes were not disrupted.
The “Save IIT Fast” was observed to urge the Union Human Resource Development Ministry to present a pay package that would attract faculty members and ensure autonomy and flexibility to the IIT system.
“As per the Ministry’s notification, only 40 per cent of professors can be promoted to the senior grade. We can’t accept this cap since we believe that all our professors are competent. We have never had such a cap in the system. Then why have it now,” asked Sanjeev Sanghi, vice-president of the IIT-Delhi Faculty Forum.
The faculty have proposed setting up a three-member “impartial” committee comprising an IIT alumnus, an industry expert familiar with the functioning of the IIT system and an academician, to look into their demands.
“Several positions in the old IITs are vacant. We are unable to attract faculty because we do not have a decent pay package. After passing out, an IIT student gets a minimum of Rs. 6 lakh per annum. That’s more than an assistant professor’s salary,” forum president S.S. Murthy, said addressing his colleagues on the campus.
“Why are we being compared with the UGC? Our competition is with industry. Some performance-related incentive scheme should be implemented at the earliest.”
Professor Murthy sought to play down any difference of opinion on this issue between the faculty and directors of the IITs.
“There is no disagreement. All of us want the IITs to flourish.”
The faculty members said they planned to engage the alumni in this process soon.
“The government created the Govardhan Mehta Committee to look into our pay package. It should have at least respected its own committee. It has diluted that committee’s recommendations. There are some fundamental problems that need to be investigated why the IIT system is collapsing. They should not denigrate us by saying we are acting like trade unions. We are carrying out our protest in a very dignified manner,” said Prof. Murthy.
The faculty members also spoke about implementation of post-retirement medical facilities.


Assam to recruit surrendered militants

Sushanta Talukdar

Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said the government will raise two new battalions of the Assam Police by recruiting surrendered militants.
The battalions would be raised as part of State government’s plan to rehabilitate those youth who gave up insurgency or were confined to designated camps after signing agreements with the government to end hostilities.

Development package

Mr. Gogoi told reporters that the government would also come out with a special development package for two hill districts—Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills.
Altogether 386 cadres of militant Dima Halam Daogah(Jewel Garlosa faction) have come over ground in North Cachar Hills in the current month and moved to designated camps after depositing 142 different types of arms and ammunitions to the police.
In addition to these 386 DHD(Jewel) cadres, about 19,00 cadres of six militant outfits are currently confined to designated camps in the State.
The six militants groups are the United Liberation Front of Asom(Pro-Talk), Dima Halam Daogah, National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB), Birsa Commando Force (BCF), United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS), and Adivasi Cobra Militant Force (ACMF). 

India-China '09 drill was not on: MEA

NEW DELHI: The government on Thursday admitted that there would be no `hand-in-hand (HiH)' military exercise between the Indian and Chinese armies this year. Instead, the next HiH combat drill would be held in 2010, it said. 

Reacting to TOI's report that the HiH exercise, held for the first time in 2007 and followed by the second edition in 2008, had been called-off for 2009, a foreign ministry spokesperson said, "It was mutually decided during the last exercise (in December 2008) that the next joint military exercise would be held in 2010. Therefore, no joint military exercise was planned in 2009." 

The TOI report did not say when the decision was taken but that it had only now come to light that the HiH drill, billed as a path-breaking confidence-building measure between India and China, would not be held this winter and that no clear explanations were forthcoming from the defence ministry. 

Moreover, in earlier briefings by the defence ministry and Army, it was conveyed that the HiH exercise would be an annual affair.

Nukes of 200kt yield possible: Architect of Pokhran-II

MUMBAI: R Chidambaram, ex-AEC chief and the architect of the 1998 Pokhran nuclear weapons tests, on Thursday rejected the demand for a peer review to assess the yield of the thermonuclear bomb saying the Pokhran-II data had already been subjected to several peer reviews. 

In fact, Chidambaram said India had the capability to build fission and thermonuclear weapons with yields up to 200 kilotons. Trying to put a damper on the raging controversy on the yield of India’s H-bomb, Chidambaram said that due to ‘‘proliferation sensitivity, the design details of the thermonuclear device have not been made public’’. 

‘‘Considering this, I do not think there is any need of a peer review. It’s an unnecessary controversy. Kakodkar and I are saddened that two of our colleagues are raising doubts about the yields,’’ he said at a press conference that was also attended by Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar and Barc director S Banerjee. 

Chidambaram was responding to a demand made by former AEC chief P K Iyengar and former Barc director A N Prasad that there should be a peer review of the thermonuclear test. Iyengar and Prasad were subsequently supported by K Santhanam, a key player in the Pokhran test, who was the first to reveal on August 27, 2009, that the yield of the device was around 25kt and not 45kt as stated by Chidambaram and then scientific adviser A P J Abdul Kalam. 
Santhanam, when contacted to respond to Chidambaram’s clarification, refused comment. 

The thrust of the media briefing held at AEC headquarters in Colaba was that the May 1998 weapons tests were fully successful . 

‘‘They have helped us build a nuclear deterrence of different yields. A great deal of further scientific and technical development work has taken place since May 1998. We have published as much data as possible without 
releasing proliferation-sensitive information,’’ Chidambaram said. 

Chidambaram said that yield measurements were based mainly on advanced seismology and radio chemistry. ‘‘Radio chemistry has been used in many areas,’’ he said. 

Dismissing suggestions that computer simulation was no substitute for a real test, Kakodkar said that the biggest gain of these tests was in the area of computer simulation.