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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

MHRC member piqued by govt neglect


IMPHAL, Jan 16: Member of Manipur Human Rights Commission, Col. RK Rajendra (retd) has expressed discontentment over the conduct of the state government which has totally ignored the existence of the commission.

In a press meet held this morning at his residence at Yaiskul Chingakham Leirak, member Rajendra stated that the state government is not fulfilling the demands which the members of the commission have been urging for the last many years.

The demands of the commission include implementation of  proper pay roll for the members, declaration of the status of the members and recruitment of staff and other personnel of the commission, he said.

In other states of India, the basic pay scale of the members of state human rights commission is Rs 90,000 which is same as the pay scale of a high court judge.

The chairperson and members also receive Rs 30,000 and Rs 25,000 respectively as house rent allowance in addition to the pay of Rs 90,000 he added.

But in Manipur, the members are given only Rs 16000 as honarium with deduction of the amount of basic pension pay for those members who also draw pension either from the state or Central government, he noted.

In his case, he draws a basic pension pay of about Rs 8000 as a retired Lt. Colonel of the Indian Army before the implementation of the 6th Pay and so his honarium was Rs. 8761 after deducting the said amount of pension pay.

But at present, his basic pension pay reached Rs 25,700 with the implementation of 6th pay exceeding the honarium, but the state finance department has not sanctioned his honarium for more than seven months from July onwards thereby creating problems and confusion in this matter.

He strongly maintained that the government should not deduct the amount of his pension pay from the honarium as other members do receive the exact amount of Rs 16,000 as honarium and added that the deduction made in this honarium is a violation of “equal pay for equal work”.

He drew the attention of the government to sanction his honarium as soon as possible and an application has already been submitted to the secreary (finance) in this regard.

Col. Rajendra also stated that the state government has not yet announced the status for the members who should be in the 17th position next to state Cabinet ministers as per the warrant of precedence of the Government of India.

The members consider the non-declaration of their status by the government as an insult to them and they would even boycott the upcoming Republic Day if their status is not declared latest by January 26.

The commission also demanded certain manpower at a strength of about 130-140 comprising of law division, administrative division, training division, finance section, research division along with medical and environment wings, he asserted.

But in Manipur, the commission has only about 12 employees which are mostly hired from other departments. The commission should also have a secreatary who is serving currently as the secretary to the state government along with an investigative officer who should not be below the rank of IGP, he added.

He further stated that the commission has set up some additional rules and regulations for effective functioning of the commission and the recent spot inquiry of July 23 Khwairamband incident was conducted by himself according to the rules and regulations, which  is otherwise to be conducted by the investigating officer of the commission.

He also appealed evreryone to render help and support to the commission in its working to safeguard human rights in the state.


Rumours are a buzz in the South Block that Army Chief Deepak Kapoor may quit early to stall the appointment of Lt Gen V K Singh  as his successor. Gen Kapoor is scheduled to retire in March end. In case Gen Kapoor quits early Lt Gen Mohanty being the seniormost  Army Official  may take over the reigns before retiring in February. An interesting scenario.


India's maritime challenges in the 21st century


New Delhi, India — Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor’s remarks at a closed-door seminar in New Delhi on Dec. 30, 2009, that the army was ready to fight a two-front war simultaneously with China and Pakistan, were ham-handedly projected by the media.

As India grows strong economically, Indians expect a threat to its sovereignty, especially at sea where 80 percent of its trade is plied.

The Indian Navy faces a rising threat from China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy in the Indian Ocean region and from terrorists seeking a sea route to wage attacks on land like the one on Mumbai in November 2008. It is also concerned over the increasing number of incidents of piracy off the Somali coast, from the Kenyan coast to the Seychelles islands and the Malacca Straits, which challenge merchant naval ships in international waters.

China has emerged as the second-largest economy in the world in 2010 and the need for commodities like oil, iron ore, coal, copper, aluminum and uranium to feed its economy’s gargantuan appetite has led to huge imports, most of which arrive by sea. This has led to the ambitious renaissance of its navy.

The neglect of maritime industries since 1949 now weighs heavily on China, as it finds the Indian Navy having invested heavily in shipbuilding, training and manpower over the same period of time.

The speed at which the Indian Navy provided relief aid to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states hit by the tsunami in December 2007 was an eye-opener to many maritime powers.

China’s communist rulers love challenges and will use this peaceful period till 2030 to rebuild the country’s maritime muscle. This is the real challenge to the Indian polity and its Admiralty.

The answer is not a numbers game but to correctly forecast strategic shortcomings and build strong competencies, which can overwhelm likely adversaries at the commencement of hostilities. A better strategy would be to deter adversaries, so that enemy naval planners realize the extent of damage that can be inflicted on prized assets.

A recent article in Newsweek indicated that the age of terror had moved on. Unfortunately, that is not the case, as is evident from the failed terrorist bombing of a transatlantic Detroit-bound flight on Christmas Day. Terror in its most virulent form is still alive and kicking.

The rising numbers of suicide bombings in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region against NATO and U.S. forces and the terror attacks on Pakistan’s major cities have severely affected civilian life. Most of it is self-inflicted, as the country has refused to evolve since 1947.

The Taliban and al-Qaida view India as a soft target, as porous frontiers exist along the coast, which were traditionally used by the Dubai-based mafia for smuggling gold.

The Indian Navy’s “brown water” capabilities, which refer to its capacity to carry out military operations in rivers or littoral environments, assisted by the Coast Guard, need a complete revamp. Policing such littoral environments is a slow, tedious, time-consuming and frustrating task, as the identity of every crew member of a fishing craft or sailing dhow must be checked.

On any given day, about 200,000 fishing boats sail along India’s west coast alone, each carrying four fishermen at the very minimum. One way to police the waters is to restrict sailing space.

Piracy of serious magnitude in international waters first surfaced off the West African coast. The scene shifted to the Malacca Straits in the late 1980s and was put down determinedly by littoral states in the 1990s.

The failed state of Somalia and the lack of governance have resulted in the present imbroglio off the Horn of Africa and have spread hundreds of kilometers to the east coast of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Recent interceptions by coalition navies and the Indian Navy indicate a change in the complement of pirates from Somali residents to foot soldiers of al-Qaida. This has ominous portent.

Presently, India is caught within the imperatives of the blue water and brown water navy, as both are important and necessary and both have short-term and long-term implications.

The three-layer response to augment the navy, Coast Guard and Marine Police is a good start. What is needed is to ensure that neither fatigue nor flagging energy with time sets in. Terrorists need just one mistake by security forces in “brown waters” to succeed in their task.

India’s blue water navy must respond to China’s PLA Navy and sea pirates. Well-trained staff will be a recurring requirement as much as technology. For example, network-centric capabilities are excellent for above-sea surface requirements, while being dependant on an x-ray band spectrum that cannot penetrate seawater will yield no results.

Blue water sonar systems for subsurface warfare are constrained in their performance in littoral waters. India’s likely adversaries are building a formidable fleet of submarines, both conventional and nuclear-powered. These are major examples, besides others, of the realities facing specialist naval planners.

Major navies of the world, including the Indian Navy, have adopted network-centric capabilities as core competencies today. The combat areas in the 21st century have shifted to littoral waters. Will this result in suboptimal utilization of the assets built? Only time will tell.

Maritime diplomacy needs to be refashioned with the Ministry of Defense (Navy) and the Ministry of External Affairs joining hands to complement each other, especially in the Indian Ocean region. Most countries in the region have weak maritime capabilities. This can be vigorously worked upon with generous assistance from India.

The private sector in India seeks a major foothold in defense contracts today. The Indian government must assist the private sector in building merchant marine vessels or simple warships like offshore patrol vessels, on easy credit terms in Indian private shipyards, for our neighbors.

The strength of our economy will be enhanced by catering to the maritime needs of our neighbors, similar to what the United States has done for Canada and Mexico.