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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thank You Major Navdeep

Dear Readers,

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

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

3. Thank You Major Navdeep for this excellent writeup.

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


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

Navy sends SOS on ageing submarines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why India can’t be successful against Maoists


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

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

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

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

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

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

9 die in Kota bridge collapse, 45 still missing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, the politics over the accident has already begun.

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

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

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

UN appoints former top Indian Commander as envoy to Sudan

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

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

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

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

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


Right thinking

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

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

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

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