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Was Gen Bipin Rawat’s appointment as Army Chief pushed by the influential Gorkha coterie?

The appointment of Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat as new Chief of Army Staff has snowballed into a controversy, once it emerged that Rawat was not the senior-most officer in the Indian Army. The officers who were bypassed to let Rawat become the new army chief were not only more senior, but they were also in command positions, placed there because they are capable enough and experienced enough to become chief.

They have been on the frontline as active commanders. You don’t get to become an army commander unless you’re ready and trained, as simple as that. It’s not just a question of seniority; hundreds of very senior people get bypassed, sidelined, passed over, and continue to serve “juniors” for several years if they wish to stay in uniform. In all these cases, the officers are competent field commanders, and have already touched the stars…literally.

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat. File photo. Getty ImagesLt Gen Bipin Rawat. File photo. Getty Images

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat. File photo. Getty Images

But then, it’s no secret that there is a coterie at the army headquarters. The Gorkha Rifles are so strongly represented at the highest levels that it raises eyebrows even within army circles. The incumbent Chief of Army Staff, Dalbir Singh Suhag, is from the Gorkha Rifles, as is Bipin Rawat, the man who will replace him on 31 December. In April this year, five of the 14 major generals promoted to their third star were from the Gorkha Rifles. The director general military intelligence, Lieutenant General SK Patyal, is from the Gorkhas. The director general military training Lieutenant General AL Chauhan is from the Gorkha Rifles.

These, by the way, are the top jobs at army headquarters; they oversee all strategic matters. Another very important position is director general military operations, currently held by Lieutenant General AK Bhatt, again from the Gorkha Rifles. Even the adjutant general Lieutenant General RK Sharma is from the Gorkha Rifles.

What are the odds that in an army of over a million, with dozens of battalions and regiments, all with glorious histories, the top five jobs would be held by officers from the same section of the army.

None of this is rocket science. And it’s all available on the public domain.

Sure, the Gorkhas have a proud history, but so do the Sikh Regiments, the Maratha Light Infantry, the Rajputana Rifles, the Madras Regiment, the Guards, the para regiments, the Punjab Regiment, the Grenadiers, the Bihar Regiment, the Jats, the Dogras, the Assam Regiment, J&K Rifles, the Armoured Corps, the Mechansied regiments, etc.

Handing command to a Gurkha is not a flaw in itself, but it means one regiment will continue to hold sway at South Block. If it is happening at the expense of others is a question worth asking.

Retired Lieutenant General Ike Singha, as head of the Peacekeeping Mission in Golan Heights in Syria and Israel from 2012 to 2015, has seen more action than anyone else in the Indian Army. This is what he has to say about the controversy over Bipin Rawat’s appointment. “The NDA government launched a surgical strike on the Indian Army by superseding very competent generals and selecting Bipin Rawat as the next COAS. In the past, only once has the seniormost army commander been passed over; when Lt Gen. Sinha was overlooked and Gen. AS Vaidya appointed COAS by the Congress government led by Indira Gandhi. History punished the nation for this folly. Gen. Vaidya lacked the moral guts to tell Gandhi that the army, an apolitical organisation should not be dragged into storming a religious place like the Golden Temple. Gen. Sinha, a strong man, would have perhaps resisted and that is why he was overlooked. The BJP resurrected Sinha, and he was appointed a member of the Rajya Sabha. Unfortunately, the NDA government has made the same mistake and overlooked two very capable officers. I have very closely served with all three senior officers and we have grown together. All three are thorough professionals and Praveen Bakshi and PM Hariz lacked nothing.”

“Modi, like Jawaharlal Nehru, feels that the country is not going to fight a war with any of its neighbours. Nehru showed Chou en Lai all our defence establishments, and the shrewd Chinese leader saw the chinks in our armour and annexed Tibet in 1959. India was stunned, but before it could recover from the jolt, China affected an embarrassing defeat in the 1962 war. Modi has a disdain for the Indian Army that I watched closely as General Officer Commanding in Gujarat. It seems he is going the Nehru way and has no inclination to learn from history. (Manohar) Parrikar is a technocrat and has been chief minister of Goa, a state with two districts. A novice in security matters, he thinks he has a magic wand and has a solution for all the complex problems and challenges facing the defence forces.”

He does not.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 15:26 IST

Why denying armoured corps its importance would be an error in late announcement of new army chief

Whenever anyone criticises Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar for either his intemperate remarks or his shabby sartorial inelegance and total lack of occasion there is invariably a group of people who rush to his rescue.

This is understandable because we are, as a nation, weaned on the equation that those who are ‘simple’ (read sloppy) or disheveled and scruffy are good people at heart. This is integral to our categorisation of the human race and any effort to be smart or display a level of is indicative of a certain corruption of values. Simplicity becomes a cloak for laziness, sloth, even casual indifference.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTIDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

The same sort of casual indifference that marks the attitude towards the announcement of the next Chief of the Army Staff. General Dalbir Singh Suhag, who himself, was appointed after much stress, retires at the end of the month and that is scarcely more than two weeks to go.

In a brilliant assessment of the subject of four-star appointments by Prakash Nanda in Firstpost on the inordinate delay, he has traced the frequent rocks strewn in the path of the handing over in all three services. The fact that the successor is announced at least 10 weeks before the date of retirement has been conveniently ignored because, of course, the defence ministry is clearly not cognizant of this fact. The thing is when the announcement is made automatically there is a shuffling at the Army Commander level and the domino principle kicks in. Immediately, the senior ranks know who the next leaders of their armies and Corps are going to be. The deck so to speak is reshuffled.

It is customary in India to give the fourth star to the seniormost army commander. After all, if his Annual Confidential Reports are without any negatives Indian convention follows the British model and it cannot find fault with that aspirant. After all, there is no further gauge to measure his caliber. In the US the president can appoint and leapfrog several Generals to announce a successor.

To keep the obvious choice in suspense is to inject politics into the issue and needlessly bring about speculation that is detrimental to the morale of the force and fuels rumours. At present Lt General Praveen Bakshi, GOC-in-C Eastern Command is the frontrunner and the automatic choice. The indication that since he is an Armoured Corps officer (tanks and missile regiments) there is uncertainty over his being the chief a position held usually by an infantry officer.

This is such balderdash it is unbelievable. We have had Signals officers who were Army Commanders. The Armoured Corps is not only held in the highest esteem it is an elite arm of the Service and has a history of over 250 years with regiments like Deccan Horse, Scinde Horse, Poona Horse, Hodson’s Horse, the 3,7, 8 Cavalries and Central India Horse that can display medals of gallantry in battle way back to the early 18th century. The much-touted battle of Basantar, the biggest since Rommel, was an Armoured Corps affair and if he denied command over the Army on these grounds it will be a huge pity.

If Lt General Bakshi is denied his legitimate claim to the fourth star it will also be a bruising of the huge store held in the capabilities of our men in tanks.

The black berets are the best.

Honestly, this is so indicative of civilian ignorance of how the armed forces operate that they would play tiddlywinks with such a sensitive matter.

Even the infantry would be appalled if that was a reason applied to the Parrikar decision to bypass the Eastern Command chief while appointing the vice-chief.

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 21:41 IST

INS Betwa could have tipped over due to miscalculation says Manohar Parrikar

New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday indicated that one of the reasons for tipping over of guided missile frigate INS Betwa during undocking at Naval Dockyard in Mumbai could be “miscalculation of balance.”

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Parrikar, who has been briefed by Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, spoke about the importance of centre of gravity.

He explained that when a ship undergoes refit, a lot of machines and fixtures like propeller, engine, etc are removed due to which the balance gets disturbed.

“You are supposed to maintain it. Something must have gone wrong in that,” Parrikar said speaking at Agenda Aaj Tak.

He said there could have been a “miscalculation” and added that a Board of Inquiry is on and it will pinpoint the reasons.

Parrikar was responding to a question as to whether the INS Betwa accident showed Navy’s inability to absorb high technology.

Rear Admiral Deepak Bali, Flag-Officer Offshore Defence Advisory Group, is heading the Board of Inquiry.

The 3,850-tonne ship, with a length of 126 metres, tipped over while it was being undocked. The mast of the ship hit the dockyard ground.

It was docked for repairs and while being returned to the water — a process that involves tipping the ship, the system tripped and the entire ship fell sideways. The main mast of the frigate broke.

INS Betwa, a Brahmaputra-class guided missile warship (F-39), slipped on the dock blocks during a refit at about 1350 hours on Monday.

The ship had run aground in January 2014 and collided with an unidentified object which led to a crack in its sonar system, and had also seen salt water ingress into sensitive equipment.

Named after the river Betwa, the frigate has been in service for over 12 years. It was indigenously designed and built with the capability to operate at extended ranges, with speeds up to 30 knots.

It is one of the key warships of the Western Naval Command. It is armed with Uran anti-ship missiles, Barak 1 surface-to-air missiles and torpedoes.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 18:02 IST

Nagrota attack: Army guns down four militants in J&K encounter, three soldiers die

Jammu: After eight hours of heavy exchange of fire, security forces killed four terrorists who attacked an army camp in the Nagrota cantonment area in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday morning.

The number of militants killed, however, couldn’t be confirmed as the paramilitary forces were still conducting search ops to sanitise the area.

According to a police officer, an unidentified number of militants carrying automatic weapons and explosives entered the field regiment camp around 5.30 am and started firing indiscriminately at the Officers’ Mess inside the camp.

Army personnel take position during encounter after militants attacked an Army camp in Nagrota on the outskirts of Jammu on Tuesday morning. PTI

The field regiment camp is located in the garrison town of Nagrota, around one kilometre from the headquarter of Indian Army’s 16 Corps in the state.

The militants holed up in the army camp since morning as they exchanged fire with the security forces, killing three jawans and injuring three others in the gunfire, one of them being a young army major.

The retaliatory firing by the security forces killed one terrorist in the morning before the terrorists split up and started firing from three ends — the officers’ mess, the store and the river front in the camp.

According to CNN-News18, the militants had entered the area in army clothes during the change in guard hours, a strategy observed in the Uri attack as well.

“A group of heavily armed militants, believed to be four-to-five in number, attacked the 166 field army regiment camp in Nagrota area of Jammu today [Tuesday] morning,” a police officer told IANS.

“After entering the camp, the militants fired at the Officers Mess inside the camp. Two militants were killed and three soldiers injured. Other militants are still firing inside the camp,” the officer added.

According to CNN-News18, the Indian forces killed two other militants in the afternoon after the paramilitary commandoes joined the operations. But it couldn’t be confirmed.

However, Manish Mehta, Defence PRO refused to confirm the details till the operation was completely over.

The attack came around the same time when an infiltration bid was undergoing near the Chambliyal border outpost in Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir. However, any connection between the two attacks has not been confirmed as yet.

This is the seventh terror attack in the last seven days. The camp is situated close to the headquarters of the Indian Army’s 16 Corps — a massive military formation that acts as a nerve centre to fight militancy and defend the borders in the Jammu region. According to reports, it’s likely that the army headquarter was the terrorists’ main target.

According to ANI, Defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday said that statistics have shown that the terrorists are targetting mostly military establishments and not civilian areas as they seek support from the locals.

The security forces have cordoned off the area and all schools Nagrota tehsil remained shut on Tuesday as a precautionary measure. “We have ordered the closure of all schools and education institutions in Nagrota tehsil in view of the terror attack”, Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, Simrandeep Singh said.

In view of the attack, the Jammu-Srinagar highway, which runs through Nagrota, has been closed for traffic near the town after the security forces cordoned off the area. An alert has been sounded in Jammu city and security has been beefed up in nearby districts including Uddhampur and Katra which is home to the Vaishnodevi temple.

Meanwhile, the Congress has criticised the Narendra Modi government, asking it to clairfy its stand on Pakistan, and how the government plans to deal with cross-border terrorism.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 16:22 IST

Manohar Parrikar to visit Bangladesh, first by an Indian defence minister

New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will on Wednesday embark on a two-day visit to Bangladesh during which he will call on the top leadership there and firm up defence cooperation initiatives ahead of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s trip here next month.

Parrikar, who will be the first Indian Defence Minister to visit Bangladesh, will call on President Abdul Hamid in Dhaka on Wednesday and hold talks with the security advisor to prime minister, officials said.

On 1 December, the minister, who will be accompanied by the vice-chiefs of the army and air force, deputy chief of navy besides coast guard chief, will visit the military academy in Chittagong and meet Hasina, who also holds the defence portfolio.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. File photo. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. File photo. PTI

Top defence ministry officials said the focus of the trip was to deepen security ties and firm up a defence cooperation agreement that is likely to be signed when Hasina visits here around 17 December. They said that Parrikar was originally scheduled to travel to Bangladesh much earlier this month but the visit was delayed. They also ruled out any link between the visit and the sale of two submarines by China to Bangladesh.

Hasina announced the plan to purchase two submarines in 2013 as part of her government’s move to build a modern navy.

When Bangladesh Navy chief Muhammad Farid Habib had visited India in November last year, he had said Bangladesh is going to buy two used submarines from China for “training” its surface crew and Sonar crew in anti-submarine warfare.

“Since the delimitation of maritime border problem has been solved, we are now trying to cooperate. We are trying to patrol in our areas. So in our sea, we also expect lot of gas and oil,” Habib had said then. He also said Bangladesh wants to work with the Indian Navy as there are many “non-traditional threats” in sea, a reference to piracy, floating armouries among others.

“We cannot tackle those threats alone. It requires cooperation so that we can together fight non-traditional threats and make the area peaceful,” the visiting navy chief had said.

Areas of naval cooperation that are proposed include option of coordinated patrolling along International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL), bilateral exercises between both navies, joint surveillance of Exclusive Economic Zone and cooperation in hydrography.

First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 14:35 IST

Nagrota attack LIVE: Civilians are safe, says Manohar Parrikar; Modi briefed

Nov 29, 2016

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Jammu: Militants attacked an army camp in Nagrota in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday morning, officials said. The attack reportedly started around 5.30 am with militants firing at a field regiment camp located in the garrison town of Nagrota near the headquarter’s of Indian Army’s 16 Corps in the state.

At least, two-three suicide attackers are believed to be holed up in the area as a heavy exchange of fire is going on between the militants and security forces. However, their exact number is still not confirmed.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The ongoing firing has killed two jawans and injured two others, one of them being a junior commissioned officer.

CNN-News18 reported that the Indian security forces killed one terrorist later in the morning. According to the TV news channel, the militants entered the area dressed in army clothes.

“A group of heavily armed militants, believed to be four-to-five in number, attacked the 166 field army regiment camp in Nagrota area of Jammu today (Tuesday) morning,” a police officer told IANS.

“After entering the camp, the militants fired at the Officers Mess inside the camp. Two militants were killed and three soldiers injured. Other militants are still firing inside the camp,” the officer added.

According to CNN-News18, the militants are currently holed up inside the officer’s mess near the camp.

The camp is situated close to the headquarters of the Indian Army’s 16 Corps — a massive military formation that acts as a nerve centre to fight militancy and defend the borders in the Jammu region.

This is the seventh terror attack in the last seven days. “The encounter is currently in progress, however, the number of militants is still not confirmed. We will able to give more details only once the operation is over,” Defence PRO, Manish Mehta told the news channel.

The security forces have cordoned off the area and ordered to shut down all schools Nagrota tehsil as a precautionary measure.  “We have ordered the closure of all schools and education institutions in Nagrota tehsil in view of the terror attack”, Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, Simrandeep Singh said.

“We have ordered the closure of all schools and education institutions in Nagrota tehsil in view of the terror attack”, Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, Simrandeep Singh said.

In view of the attack, the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway has been closed for traffic in the area, PTI said.

An alert has been sounded in Jammu city as well.

The attack came around the same time when an infiltration bid was undergoing near the Chambliyal Border Outpost in Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir.

(With agency inputs)

First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 12:45 IST

Manohar Parrikar says he was ‘shivering’ on his first day in office as defence minister

Panaji: In a candid admission, Manohar Parrikar on Saturday said he was “shivering” on his first in office as Defence Minister, though he tried to put up a brave face.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

“When I went to Delhi, I took experience of that city. I became Defence Minister with the blessings of you all. I did not know anything,” Parrikar said, addressing a ‘Vijay Sankalp’ rally at Sanvordem constituency on Saturday.

“Let me admit, I was shivering on the first day (of taking charge). I put up a brave face banking on my experience, but in reality I didn’t even have knowledge about the rank of military officers,” he said.

Parrikar was chief minister of Goa before his induction into the Union Cabinet by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Goa’s brush with the military was during 1961 when Indian Army liberated the state from Portuguese rule. After that, we saw 1965 and 1971 wars. During the Kargil war, I have given slogans but in reality, I was unaware about what is war and what is the preparedness required for that,” he said.

The minister said he realised that “armament stores are empty and government had tied hands of the soldiers. I did nothing much for last two years but told the army that if anyone attacks, you are free to retaliate.”

“You have noticed the impact of this liberty. Whenever there was attack on us, our brave soldiers have retaliated strongly. Whether it be the surgical strike (in PoK) or firing at the line of border, Army has responded strongly, forcing the enemy to plead for peace. During the last four days, there has been no firing on the border.”

First Published On : Nov 28, 2016 08:27 IST

Shiv Sena needles ally BJP over violence along LoC, says govt should ‘accept its failure’

Mumbai: Needling the Centre over Pakistan’s offensive on the border and the mutilation of an Indian Army soldier, the Shiv Sena said the Union government, which took credit for surgical strikes across Line of Control (LoC), should now admit its failure to bring an end to killings at the border.

Shiv Sena is part of the NDA government at the Centre. AFP file imageShiv Sena is part of the NDA government at the Centre. AFP file image

Shiv Sena is part of the NDA government at the Centre. AFP file image

“In the case of demonetisation, the government is coming out with new proof that would make people patriots. But it is not ready to talk on Pakistan’s activities at the border. When will the government show its patriotism by avenging the killings and beheadings of Indian soldiers?” an editorial in party mouthpiece Saamana said, adding that deaths of soldiers have doubled after the surgical strikes were conducted.

Despite defence minister Manohar Parrikar‘s tough talk, three soldiers have been killed at the border, it said. “If the government took political mileage out of the surgical strike, it should now accept its failure as well,” Shiv Sena, which is an ally of the NDA government at the Centre, said.

“If the Prime Minister has made everyone come out on the streets with one decision (of demonetisation), he needs to take a similar decision one evening to crush Pakistan,” it said.

In a cross-LoC attack by suspected Pakistani terrorists on Tuesday, three Indian soldiers were killed, with one of them being mutilated as well, following which the Indian Army launched a massive counter assault along the LoC in north Kashmir.

First Published On : Nov 24, 2016 15:21 IST

Indian Army eager to teach a lesson to enemy, waiting for permission: Parrikar

Panaji: The Army is eager to teach a lesson to enemy of the country and it is just waiting for permission from the government, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said in Panaji on Sunday.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

“The morale of the Army has gone up. Army wants to teach lesson to our enemy. They are just waiting for permission from the government…We gave them permission two-three times,” Parrikar said during BJP’s campaign meeting in Vasco.

His statement came days after Pakistan conducted a military exercise in a strategically located area in Punjab province bordering India with its Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif saying that they will give a “befitting response” to any “ambitious and reckless move” by its enemies.

Parrikar said, “We want to tell our enemy that if they stare at us, we can stare with bigger eyes.”

The minister said the country’s borders are secured and no one could dare attack India.

“We are completely committed towards the security of the country. It is not just about tightening the border but we have also given required armaments to the soldiers,” he said.

Taking a dig at Congress, Parrikar claimed that after the Bofors scam, the Army did not get a new artillery gun in 30 years until the Narendra Modi government took up the initiative to manufacture “Dhanush” at HAL.

“Tejas aircraft, whose design was on the drawing board for last 33 years, is going to become a reality now. The former governments were not interested as the aircraft was supposed to be built by the government and hence they wouldn’t get any commission out of it,” he alleged.

Hailing demonetisation of high value currencies, Parrikar said the government has also given importance to “economic security” of the country.

“The country by withdrawing Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations has taken the challenge to fight against black money,” he added.

First Published On : Nov 21, 2016 08:08 IST

Motormouth Manohar Parrikar almost nukes India’s NSG bid with needless boast

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar‘s astonishingly witless statements straying from India’s carefully-worded official nuclear-weapons policy on Thursday comes at a particularly bad time.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTIDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

As India embarks on a renewed mission to compel Pakistan to course-correct by deploying all instruments of statecraft while simultaneously lobbying for a place in the global nuclear high table, Parrikar’s musings will be noticed and filed up for propaganda value by those who seek to block both objectives. One imagines minions in Zhongnanhai and GHQ Rawalpindi to be exceedingly pleased with this enormous Indian self-goal.

Watching the defence minister’s grandstanding — he was speaking at the launch of a very interesting new book that seeks to lay out a national security strategy for India in the 21st century — one is reminded of a late-night college bull session where a senior seeks to impress sophomores with his cleverness.

This is not the only bizarre statement from Parrikar. Not too long ago, the defence minister compared the Indian Army’s stance before the 29 September cross-LoC raids to that of Hanuman’s before being blessed by the wisdom of Jamwant. Perhaps it would be more productive for the minister to explain why that uncalled for impromptu on nuclear weapons by a key member of Cabinet Committee on Security was a terrible idea.

First, and this is to state the obvious, the real utility of nuclear weapons are as tools of coercive diplomacy — to deter an adversary from initiating a certain action, or to compel it to change its position on a political issue. Nuclear weapons are primarily tools of bargaining, in other words. But in order for this to work, messaging around nuclear weapons (non-) use has to be consistent across all stakeholders.

The first challenge that any new nuclear-weaponed state faces is to simultaneously assure its adversaries that its assets will not be used imprudently while seeking to reap political-strategic value from the mere possession of the same. Deterrence is primarily a psychological play buttressed both by resolve and restraint. Statements and restatements determine the moves and countermoves of a nuclear bargaining game whose overarching rubric is determined by a state and its adversary’s implicit or explicit nuclear-weapons policy.

Any off-the-cuff statement stands to vastly undermine the unwritten rules of this game with unpredictable consequences. This is why states are extremely reluctant to sharply change their nuclear postures, for the fear of upending the strategic calculus that upholds the “delicate balance of terror”, to steal a phrase of Alfred Wohlstetter, a leading Cold-War strategist. This is why — as an example — President Barack Obama’s personal opinion notwithstanding, the United States has been extremely reluctant to adopt a no-first-use policy in a break with its historical position.

But while nuclear weapons are tools of bargaining, they are also determinants of national prestige. New members of the nuclear-weapons club often leverage their apparent responsibility as custodians of these weapons to seek concessions in international fora. This was the main reason why India — soon after becoming a declared nuclear-weapons state in 1998 — published a draft nuclear doctrine that had the imprimatur of the newly-established National Security Advisory Board, after imposing a voluntary moratorium on further testing. The strategic benefits of this calculated stance of restraint were tremendous. It led to the landmark civil nuclear agreement with the United States and — more crucially — to a diplomatic de-hyphenation with Pakistan insofar as the US was concerned.

The BJP learnt the importance of not publicly toying with the declared doctrine the hard way, after its 2014 election manifesto — which promised a rethink on India’s nuclear weapons policy — caused a furore both at home and abroad. Since coming to power it has backed away from its election promise.

None of this is to argue that India’s extant nuclear doctrine is perfect. Far from it, it is in urgent need of a rethink. For one, the doctrine of no-first-use that India ascribes to was predicated on the conventional military balance favouring India or, at worst, on parity with other powers in the region. Certain scholars have argued that Pakistan’s flirtation with nuclear maximalism — and its development of tactical/theatre nuclear weapons — presents significant challenges to the Indian doctrine, perhaps rendering it meaningless. China’s ongoing quest for asymmetric means of waging war, through anti-satellite and cyber weapons, could also force India to move from being a reticent nuclear power, with de-altered nuclear weapons systems, to a more forceful posture with an alerted nuclear triad.

But these discussions are — as they should be — carried out within the closed confines of the security establishment. And it is not the case that the informed public does not have any avenues to understand the contours of the debate that is likely to be taking place within the government, should it rethink India’s nuclear doctrine. They would just have to turn to the published writings of well-placed analysts with ideological affinities to the current government.

That the defence minister — and his loyalists — needs to be told all this is ironic. And troubling.

Abhijnan Rej is a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi and a national security columnist for Firstpost. Views expressed here are personal. He tweets @AbhijnanRej.

First Published On : Nov 11, 2016 17:21 IST

No-first-use is cornerstone of India’s nuclear policy: Omar Abdullah responds to Parrikar

No-first-use is cornerstone of India’s nuclear policy: Omar Abdullah responds to Manohar Parrikar

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Srinagar: Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the “no-first-use” of nuclear weapons has been the corner stone of the country’s nuclear policy which has allowed it to lay claim to being a responsible power.

Former Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah. PTI

Former Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah. PTI

“No first use has been the corner stone of our nuclear policy & allowed India to lay claim to being a responsible power after Pokhran 2,” Omar wrote on Twitter.

He was reacting to the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar‘s remarks in New Delhi that why India cannot say “we are a responsible nuclear power and I will not use it irresponsibly” instead of affirming a “no first use policy”.

“Why should I bind myself? I should say I am a responsible nuclear power and I will not use it irresponsibly. This is my (personal) thinking,” Parrikar said replying to a question as he explained the need to be unpredictable in warfare strategy.

OROP suicide: Arvind Kejriwal says Modi govt is deceiving the country’s soldiers

Hours after reports about the suicide of former serviceman Ram Kishan Grewal came to light on Wednesday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, in an emotional video message, said that the Narendra Modi government had deceived the soldiers of the nation.

“It is very sad that on Tuesday evening, a former soldier of our country Ram Kishanji committed suicide over the implementation of One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme,” Kejriwal said.

“In the letter that Ram Kishanji wrote before committing suicide, he had asked the country’s Defence Minister to implement OROP. He had also written that he was committing suicide for his nation and for the soldiers,” he further said.

Arvind Kejriwal said PM Modi was lying to the nation. Screenshot from YouTube video

Arvind Kejriwal said PM Modi was lying to the nation. Screenshot from YouTube video

Grewal, the former jawan from Bhiwani district in Haryana who committed suicide, had left a note which stated that he was taking this extreme step for the Indian soldiers. CNN-News18 further reported that Grewal’s family has blamed the Centre for the former jawan’s suicide. Grewal had also written to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar over the issue.

“It is very sad that for the last one and half years, the former servicemen of our country have been sitting on dharnas for implementation of OROP, but it has not been done so far,” Kejriwal said.

“This means that when the Prime Minister talks about how the OROP has been implemented, he is lying. The Prime Minister is lying to the whole nation about implementing OROP. If OROP had been implemented, why would Ram Kishanji commit suicide?” he added.

“I don’t think the kind of deception that the BJP government has engaged in with the soldiers has ever taken place before. First off, they have not implemented OROP, because of which Ram Kishanji had to commit suicide. Secondly, after the surgical strikes, the government should have rewarded the Indian Army. But instead of rewarding the soldiers, the government ordered a huge cut in the disability pension of the personnel of the Indian Army. We should have raised the disability pension instead,” said the Delhi CM.

“A few days later, the government also downgraded the ranks of the soldiers. So, you did not implement OROP, reduced their disability pension and downgraded their ranks. This is such a great deception for the Indian soldiers,” he said.

“And then you are going around places saying, ‘We made surgical strikes happen, give us votes.’ The army is being misused politically by the government,” he added.

“The Delhi government has made a policy that the government will give Rs 1 crore as compensation to the family of a martyred soldier who was from Delhi,” Kejriwal said.

“I had written a letter to the Prime Minister, asking the Centre to adopt the same policy. As many as 19 soldiers were martyred in Uri. Why could we not give Rs 1 crore to each of their families? The central government does not become poor if it donates Rs 19 crore. This would have sent a message to the soldiers that the government is concerned about them. But even this suggestion was ignored,” he said.

“Ram Kishanji, who was martyed, had won Rashtrapati Award twice. He had also got the Chief of Army Staff Award. He was a very good soldier who had worked tirelessly for 30 years. His martyrdom should not go to waste. We need to now fight for the cause he gave his life for,” Kejriwal said.

“Because a country in which soldiers and farmers start committing suicide has no future,” he added.

“Today, I ask the central government to completely implement OROP as it is. Secondly, the government should raise the disability pension instead of reducing it. Thirdly, the army ranks which were downgraded should be brought back to the original level. Fourthly, a compensation of Rs 1 crore should be given to each of the families of the soldiers martyred in Uri. And this should be a general policy of compensation,” the Delhi CM said. “And finally, the politics over surgical strikes should be stopped.”

Kejriwal had also criticised the central government earlier on Wednesday after Grewal’s suicide.

You can Kejriwal’s video message here:

Armed forces’ pay-and-rank parity: PMO told defence ministry to get forces involved in policy; MoD did opposite

Barely 10 days after the present government was sworn in May 2014, national dailies headlined “PMO tells MoD, MHA: Get forces involved in policy“, elaborating that in an attempt to improve the working environment for the armed forces and other internal security outfits, the Prime Minister’s Office has directed the home and defence ministries to ensure that decisions, especially those relating to the uniformed forces, should be taken only after detailed consultations with their top officers.

The news item elaborated that PMO strongly believed matters relating to the armed forces should not be decided by civilian bureaucrats sitting in North and South Block and that the military leadership should be involved more in decision-making.

Above report further added Prime Minister Narendra Modi had signaled: key decision cannot be left to the bureaucrats; forces must be involved at every stage as they have firsthand experience of what is happening on the ground; entire process of procurement of weapons and equipment was deeply influenced by bureaucrats who have virtually no experience in this field.

The news report quoting a senior official added that any new welfare scheme for armed or paramilitary forces gets drafted by a joint secretary or director-level officer will now change and actual operations officers from the forces will have a greater say.

Was that a lip service or did it get lip-locked by the mafia?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

It is often asked who are the mafia, for which no simple definition may apply. But remember the open letter by Anil Manibhai Naik, CEO of L&T to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that amongst other things said, “And the defence production (ministry) joint secretaries and secretaries of the defence ministry are on the boards of all public sector – sickest of sick units you can think of who cannot take out one conventional submarine out for 15 years now with the result that the gap is widening between us and China and bulk of the time we resort to imports out of no choice,” adding, “The whole (defence) industry which could have really flowered around very high technological development and taken India to the next and the next level of technological achievement and excellence is not happening.”

Of course, Manibhai would not know that while he lamented about submarines, 15 years were being taken to produce an assault rifle that was no match to top ten of its class available globally.

If you think that was long ago, witness the meeting on 24 October 2016 called by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to meet ex-servicemen wherein he indicated at the outset his hurt at the various mails derogatory towards the “bureaucracy” and requested the veteran community from using such language.

Perhaps he is right and the bureaucracy should be placed on the pedestal given the fact that despite joint secretary’s of Ministry on Defence on all boards of the DRDO, DPSUs and Ordinance Factories, India has continued to import 70 percent of its defence needs past several decades. Do you understand now why the reorganisation of MoD and injecting military professional doesn’t happen, why HQ IDS cannot be merged with MoD, why users (military) are not at the design, planning and decision making levels of governmental defence-industrial set up, and why the military must be put down any which way with welfare and prestige of serving, veterans, widows, disabled be damned.

The Defence Minister’s insistence to Service Chiefs to immediately implement 7th CPC that brings military below the CAPF, Service Chiefs decision to wait for the anomalies to be resolved first, MoD’s 30 September letter bringing the disability pension of military drastically down from what was earlier vide 6th CPC and MoD eventually forced to refer the issue to the ‘Anomalies Committee’ has been in the news.

Of course, one part of the forked tongue is tweeting disability pension as per 6th CPC for military personnel have been restored. But whom do you believe and how come the anomalies committee has become so very efficient? Had we become so administratively efficient, even World Bank would not have slammed us for ‘ease of business’. The government versus judiciary feud is in the news, but past several months the Armed Forces Tribunals (AFT) are lying defunct because the post of civilian judge to head AFTs are lying vacant. But with the type of mischief against the military being engineered anyway, why bother about any justice by AFTs.

But look at the misinformation campaign launched about government letter No A/24577/CAO/CP Cell dated October 18 that equated: civilian Group B section officer with army captain; civilian joint director with full colonel (earlier equated with Lt Col); civilian director with brigadier (earlier equated with full colonel); principal director with major general (earlier equated with brigadier). According to media, not only did this letter have MoD approval, objections by armed forces were overruled by the Defence Minister – in a note to MoD in August-September this year, army had “categorically objected to the systematic downgrading of defence officers in status/equivalence vis-à-vis civilian officers”.

Following above expose, another media report emerged quoting MoD officials that the October 18 letter in question downgrading the military ranks vis-à-vis civilian officers was only due to “functional” reasons (also stated by the Defence Minister) which is a very poor excuse because it ‘does’ downgrade military ranks. Will the Defence Minister explain what is the “functional” reason and what are the “non-functional part” of the military-civil relationship, or is it because the military is the only government service that has been deliberately denied the NFU while the balance government services including the civilian defence employees are enjoying the same?

Additionally, while MoD denies any reduction in the military’s status (without cancelling the October 18 letter) and that existing functional equivalence as clarified in 1991 and further reiterated in 1992, 2000, 2004 and 2005 has only been re-affirmed, another media report states that all these letters cited by MoD were superseded in 2009 by a Group of Ministers report (formally equating army colonels with civilian directors) which was approved by the government. So, does the Defence Minister have the foggiest idea that he is being led up the gum tree by his ministry with the explicit aim to create discord in the military establishment through deliberately downgrading military ranks vis-a-vis civilian defence officials?

Now MoD has struck again with approval of Defence Minister by creating two new civilian positions of Additional Director General (ADG) to look after engineering projects in Army’s Northern and Eastern Commands. This policy decision has been taken arbitrarily by MoD – whatever happened to the PMO missive to involve forces in policy decisions? Leave aside consulting the Engineer-in-Chief and concerned Commands, even Service Chiefs were ignored. Without doubt these ADGs will show two fingers to Army Commanders Northern and Eastern Commands; already there have been cases where civilian officers object to official meetings chaired by the Commanding Officers stating they draw more pay and hence it is they who should chair the meeting. That is why these new ADGs are being placed at Jammu and Guwahati instead of being co-located with respective Command HQ. And you guessed it – Guwahati because 7th CPC grants Rs 75,000 monthly hazard allowance to a civilian government official posted at Guwahati and perhaps the guy at Jammu will be quietly given double that amount with Pakistan shelling villages in vicinity of LoC.

Frankly, this whole exercise of creating to civilian ADG posts in Northern and Eastern Commands stinks about money – getting control of funds with (MES) offices and Chief Construction Engineers (CCE) reporting now to these civilian ADGs. There will be automatic setback to functionality and operational requirements of the military as decisions will be taken by bureaucrats sitting in MoD – exactly what PM Modi referred to above. Take the case of the Border Roads directly under MoD and the recent brouhaha of road construction in Arunachal Pradesh. It is all about connecting the villages close to the border. Little is happening about road construction to forward army posts where soldiers still have to walk two-three days to reach them. With the MES offices and Chief Construction Engineers (CCE) going under the civilian ADGs, matters will get worse.

There is fresh news that government is appointing a three-member committee to look into the issue of pay and rank parity with regard to the military. Obviously it would have no military member – perhaps all bureaucrats under the weird logic that if all the anomalies were on behest bureaucrats, they would be best suited to resolve them. The Reddy Commission on OROP anomalies submitted its report to the government three days back; what surprise it holds is not known. But if the government is really serious about resolving the civilian versus military pay and rank parity, the solution is actually very simple – combatize the civilian defence employees; give them military training and make them part of the military. This will also beef up security. NDA-I is considered by far the best for armed forces. Which way NDA-II is heading, readers can decide.

The author is veteran Lt Gen of Indian Army.

Defence Ministry will rectify discrepancies in ranks of armed forces personnel: Manohar Parrikar

New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday said the ministry would check if ranks of armed forces personnel have changed vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts, and any discrepancies would be rectified in a week.

A circular issued by the Defence Ministry, dated 18 October, on rank equivalence between defence officers and armed forces headquarters (AFHQ), and civil service officers brings the rank of armed forces officers a notch down compared to earlier status.

File image of union minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

File image of union minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

According to the circular, a Major General in the army and equivalent – which will be Rear Admiral in the navy and Air Vice Marshal in the air force – will be equal to a principal director in the civil service ranks at AFHQ.

A Brigadier in the army, and equivalents – Commodore in the navy and Air Commodore in the air force – will be equal to a director, and a Colonel in the Army – Captain in the navy and Group Captain in the air force – will be equal to a joint director in the civil service.

Earlier, a Colonel was equated with a director, Brigadier was treated at par with a deputy director-general, and a Major General was treated as equivalent of a joint secretary.

Parrikar, however, said that the classifications do not reflect the status, but are related to “functional responsibilities”, and added that it is being studied.

The minister also said if any discrepancy is found, it will be removed in a week.

“If there are any discrepancies, we will get them corrected in a week,” Parrikar said.

“Those (classifications) are only for functional responsibilities… These are not status..,” he said when asked about the circular bringing armed forces ranks down as compared to civilian employees.

Parrikar said he has sought details about the letter and also older letters referring to the subject issued in 2005, 2008 and 2009.

“I have already asked for exact status… I have asked them to give me all those orders… I will see if I find any reduction in functional responsibility,” he said.

The minister also said that some lacuna may always appear as the ministry is dealing with a large number of serving and retired servicemen, and added that the intent of the government should be noted.

“What should be taken note of is whether the government is ready to act quickly or not… For example, when 7th Pay (Commission) order was issued, there was one such comparison, a small paragraph, when brought to my notice we got it removed,” he said.

“That means government is very sensitive. When you are handling 25 lakh pensioners and 20 lakh armed forces, there are certain areas of lacuna and difficulties created, this government is very sensitive to such issues.”

Parrikar said, “The moment they are brought out I have acted on them. Difficulties, when they become public discussion, I cannot be a party to the discussion.”

Manohar Parrikar on MNS-Karan Johar ‘deal’: Contributions to Army welfare fund are voluntary

New Delhi: Defence minister Manohar Parrikar today made it clear that donation to the Army was “voluntary” and he does not appreciate “holding of someone’s neck”, amid a row over the MNS diktat asking film producers employing Pakistani actors to pay Rs 5 core to the Army Welfare Fund.

Defence minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI/File photoDefence minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI/File photo

Defence minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI/File photo

The Army is upset over being dragged into politics.

“The concept is voluntary donation and not catching neck of someone [sic]. We don’t appreciate it,” Parrikar told reporters on the sidelines of the naval commanders conference in the capital.

The defence minister said the concept behind the newly created Battle Casualty Fund was to ensure that all those people who wanted to donate voluntarily for welfare of the family of martyrs could do so.

“There will be a scheme managed by MoD with assistance from Adjutant General Branch concerned. It is a voluntary donation and therefore we are not concerned with anyone demanding something to be donated to that,” he said.

He said the ministry is formulating a scheme through which all families of martyrs will be helped equally.

The controversy erupted after Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil ran into a storm of protests led by MNS because Pakistani actor Fawad Khan has a cameo in it.

The film has been allowed to be released after its producers met with three conditions put forward by MNS chief Raj Thackeray, including payment of Rs 5 crore to Army Welfare Fund.

“All contributions (to the welfare fund) are voluntary. Extortion is not allowed. We would want people to contribute on their own rather than under any coercion,” a senior army official had said.

Army sources said that they have a system in place to check all contributions and can even reject a contribution made under duress or by any person whom the force does not want to be associated with.

Manohar Parrikar rejects Swaraj Abhiyan’s allegation, terms Rafale best deal

New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday asserted the recently-signed Euro 7.878 billion-deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets was the best ever offered to any country, rejecting Swaraj Abhiyan’s Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav’s allegation that India paid double the price.

Parrikar, however, refused to comment on the duo’s allegation that BJP parliamentarian Varun Gandhi was “honey trapped” into leaking defence secrets, a charge stoutly denied by the leader.

File photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTIFile photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

File photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

“How much does it cost to level allegation?” an angry Parrikar retorted when asked about the charge levelled by Swaraj Abhiyan.

“Rafale is the best deal that we have managed. It was because Prime Minister of India and President of France agreed that we have this deal which has not been offered to any other country,” Parrikar said.

Earlier in the day, Bhushan told a press conference, “…contrary to previous announcements of getting 126 aircraft, the government bought 36 aircraft, paying double the price for individual units. It certainly appears to be the case that something is fishy.”

He said despite having knowledge of all these things, the BJP government did not blacklist Thales, the company that sold scam-tainted Scorpene submarines, as Dassault acquired it.

Dassault Aviation has 25.3 per cent stake in Thales.

Parrikar said nothing has been proved in the alleged Scorpene leak and hence the case for banning any firm does not arise.

India recently signed a deal with Dassault for 36 Rafale aircraft.

Varun has already denied the charge, saying he has not met middleman Abhishek Verma, to whom he has been accused of having leaked defence secrets, since 2004.

He has threatened to file a defamation suit against Bhushan and Yadav over the charges.

Foreign Secretary clarifies that ‘no message’ on past surgical strikes was conveyed

New Delhi: Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar on Tuesday said whether cross-LoC surgical strikes were undertaken by the army in the past only the military will know as no “message” about such assaults were conveyed.

File photo of S Jaishankar. PTI

File photo of S Jaishankar. PTI

“What FS said is that the key issue is that we went public after conducting the surgical strikes which conveyed a politico-military message. Whether any previous crossings had been done only the army would know. But it is irrelevant anyway because there was no message,” sources in the government said.

The clarification about what transpired at a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on External Affairs, which was briefed on the strikes by Jaishankar, came after some opposition MPs quoted him having said the army had carried out “target specific, limited-calibre, counter-terrorist operations” across the LoC in the past too but this was for the first time the government had gone public about it.

An earlier report by PTI said, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar gave this information to the Parliamentary Committee on Exernal Affairs when he was specifically asked by MPs whether surgical strikes have been done in the past. His comments assume significance in the context of claims by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar‘s claims last week rejecting Congress’s claims that surgical strikes were undertaken during the UPA government too. Manohar Parrikar had said that it was the first time that surgical strikes had taken place in the aftermath of the Uri terror attack and what was undertaken previously were operations locally executed by commanders without involving the government.

Meanwhile Congress has not stopped quoting the Foreign Secretary’s earlier remarks, in an attempt to still try and milk the situation.

Manohar Parrikar selectively heeds Sangh’s teachings: RSS rebel leader

Panaji: Rebel Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader Subash Velingkar on Tuesday accused Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar of picking and choosing RSS teachings according to his convenience and timing.

File photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

File photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Velingkar said the former Goa Chief Minister should cancel government grants to English medium primary schools in the state if he really pays heed to the Sangh’s values.

“If Parrikar believes in Sangh’s teachings, he should first ensure that government grants to English medium schools should be cancelled,” Velingkar told IANS.

Parrikar, while addressing an event at the Nirma University in Ahmadabad, on Monday said: “The Prime Minister hails from Mahatma Gandhi’s home state and the Defence Minister comes from Goa which never had a ‘martial race’. And then take this surgical strike. This was a different kind of combination. May be the RSS teaching was at the core.”

Velingkar was sacked from the Sangh in August this year after he repeatedly accused Parrikar and the Goa Bharatiya Janata Party of deviating from the RSS teachings and betraying the cause of regional languages by allowing english medium primary schools, most of which are run by the state’s Roman Catholic church, avail financial grants.

Parrikar in a Cabinet decision in 2012 had allowed continuation of the state Education Ministry’s financial grants to english medium primary schools.

In the run up to the last assembly elections, Parrikar had opposed grants to the same schools.

Velingkar, who is also the co-convenor of the Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch, has accused the Defence Minister and the state BJP of betrayal, a campaign which eventually led to his sacking as the state RSS chief.

The Manch has now floated a new political party with Velingkar as one of its mentors, and this according to the rebel RSS leaders, has worried Parrikar ahead of the Goa polls early next year.

“Parrikar is actually worried because of our campaign against the BJP… The timing of his comment about his RSS teachings is therefore a suspect,” Velingkar said.

Narendra Modi praises Indian Army in Bhopal rally but keeps mum on surgical strikes

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who addressed ex-servicemen at the inauguration of the war memorial ‘shaurya samarak’ in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh on Friday, opened with chants of “Shahido amar raho” and “Vande Mataram“.

He said that our soldiers can not be associated only with war because they are a symbol of humanity as well.

Before him, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan addressed the gathering.

Parrikar said that the inauguration of the memorial is happening at a time when soldiers displayed extraordinary courage and valor on 29 September. He was referring to the surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army across the Line of Control.

Chouhan too lauded the soldiers saying that the ‘shaurya samarak’ is not just a Samarak. “It is a temple of their [soldiers] bravery,” he said. He also announced that that the parents of the martyrs from the state will be given Rs 5,000 every month. He referred to this pension as samman nidhi as a mark of respect for the sacrifices of the jawans.

Meanwhile, Modi went on to cite examples of incidents when the army had helped civilians irrespective of having faced hostile conditions by the same lot previously. “During the floods in Srinagar, the army extended its help for the rescue and relief operation. While extending help, my soldiers did not think twice if these people has pelted stones at them,” he said.

Therefore, we must associate our soldiers with humanity as well because it is the “call of humanity” that inspires our armed forces. Not only that, the fact that the Indian Army also saved some Pakistanis while rescuing Indians from Yemen is an evidence of their humanity, he added.

Modi also referred to the UN Peacekeeping Force and said that India is one of the biggest contributors to it. Around 1.5 lakh Indians lost their lives during the two world wars and the world should not forget this, he said.

“The army, BSF, CRPF, Coast Guard jawans all sacrifice their lives so that we can sleep peacefully. They don’t complain but our soldiers will not forgive us if we keep sleeping even when the time demands us to be vigilant. So, we should stay vigilant and awake,” advised Modi.

“The Army draws its strength from the support of the people. No technology or arms can beat the power of motivation,” he said.

Modi also compared Parrikar to the army, saying that the two don’t talk but just show valour.

shaurya smarak is a pilgrimage for us and the coming generations, Modi said.

Modi also talked about the disputed One Rank One Pension and accused previous governments of only making empty promises on OROP. But when we came to power, we fulfilled our promise and implemented it, he said. However, he added that since the economic burden is too huge to be implemented in one go, the scheme will be implemented in a phased manner.

He also said that the government has opened training institutes to promote skill development and employment for ex-servicemen for the first time.

Manohar Parrikar slams Rahul Gandhi, says he found ‘dalali’ in several UPA deals

Panaji: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday hit back at Rahul Gandhi over his ‘dalali‘ remark, saying those who “focused on profiteering” in defence deals fully understood the meaning of the word and that BJP does not intend to use army’s “valour” for elections.

File image of Union minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

File image of Union minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Needling Congress on the various defence scams during its stint in power, he said when he took over as Defence minister, he found “dalali” in several deals. “When I became the minister and looked into it, I realised that there was dalali and scam in submarine deal, then in (AgustaWestland) helicopter there was dalali. There were allegations of dalali in Pilatus training aircraft (deal). After that in Embraer aircraft. Those who only focused on dalali (profiteering) fully understand what the word dalali means.

“The BJP government does not understand this….this is why we don’t intend to use the valour of the Indian army in any election,” Parrikar said.

Attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Gandhi had recently told a rally in Delhi, “Jinhone Hindustan ke liye surgical strike kiye hain, unke khoon ke peeche aap chhupe hain. Unki aap dalali kar rahe ho. Yeh bilkul galat hai. You (Modi) are hiding behind the blood of soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir and those who carried out the surgical strikes for India. You are exploiting their sacrifices, which is very wrong.”

Rahul’s remarks that the Modi government was “profiteering” from the blood spilt by soldiers had drawn criticism from BJP which accused him of insulting the armed forces. However, Rahul and his party maintained that they supported the military action but denounced “political propaganda” on the issue.

Troops given free hand to respond to enemy’s misadventure: Manohar Parrikar

Lucknow: Troops have been given a free hand to give a befitting reply in case there is any misadventure on part of the “enemy”, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Thursday while contending that the country is “totally safe” under the Narendra Modi government.

To questions being raised by some political parties on surgical strikes, he said, “the race to ask for evidence reflects their fear that this will further improve the image of Prime Minister.”

A file photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTIA file photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

A file photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

He equated Pakistan to empty utensils which make the “most noise” and said there is no need to give any importance to it.

“If terrorists attack us, they will be given a befitting reply… If they dare any such move in the future, strict action will be taken against them… There is no stopping in this regard,” Parrikar said at an event in Lucknow.

“There will be no compromise with the security of the country and the nation is totally safe under the Narendra Modi-led government,” he said.

Talking in the context of the situation on the Pakistan border where tensions are high, the Defence Minister said, “The army jawans have been given a free hand that if there is any misadventure on the part of the enemy, they should be given a befitting reply.”

He added, “it is always better to kill the enemy than sacrificing our lives. It will be more beneficial.”

People of the country have complete faith in their army that they do what they say, Parrikar said.

“For the past 20 to 22 years, the country has been facing terror attacks.. people had started believing that nothing could be done that either we do not have that capability or there is no permission for it.

“People also knew that we had the strength but political decisions were not being taken .. but the decision was taken under the leadership of Narendra Modi and the entire mood has changed in the country after surgical strike”, he stressed.

Taking a dig at Pakistan, Parrikar said, “there is an old saying that when the utensil is empty it makes the most noise… We are hearing a lot of noise in the neighbourhood.. there is no need to give it any importance”.

Commenting on a remark made earlier by a speaker who described him as a “simple person”, Parrikar said though he is simple, he knows about the “crookedness” of others and can take care of them for the security of the country.

He emphasised that the morale of the troops should be kept high so that they can face all the challenges thrown at
them.

The Defence Minister said there has also been some respite in the kind of atmosphere which has been created in Kashmir. “The army has taken a firm stand,” he stressed.

Army conducted ‘100 percent perfect surgical strikes’, says Manohar Parrikar

Agra/New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday questioned the “loyalty” of those who doubted the Army and sought proof of surgical strikes across the LoC even as he made it clear that there is no need to give out any video of the operation.

File image of Union Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

File image of Union Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Describing the cross-LoC operation as “100 percent perfect surgical strike”, he said the borders of the country are secure under the Narendra Modi government. However, he warned that one has to remain vigilant against “certain elements” who don’t owe their loyalty to the country completely.

“No one had doubted bravery of our forces ever, but for the first time recently some people are doubting,” he said, maintaining that he would not like to take names. Highlighting the news report of CNN News18 in which a Pakistani police officer has admitted that surgical strikes did happen, Parrikar said, “There is now no more reason to release video or to give any proof.”

Parrikar, who was speaking at a BJP organised public meeting, said that many ex-servicemen have shown willingness to fight on the border if required. “Some ex-servicemen wrote to me and said that they are ready to fight on the border if need arises. I salute them,” said the minister, adding, “Our nation carries the heart and courage to carry this task out.”

He also said that the forces and citizens will have to be vigilant against “frustrated” terrorists who will try and attack because of the shame they have been put to as a result of the surgical strikes.

India writes to Pakistan for return of soldier Chandu Babulal Chouhan, receives no response

New Delhi: India has sought return of its soldier who inadvertently crossed the LoC and was captured by Pakistan, but has not got a positive response yet, said informed sources on Monday.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The soldier, Chandu Babulal Chouhan had inadvertently crossed the Line of Control on 30 September and was captured by Pakistani troops, a day after the Indian Army carried out surgical strikes on terror launchpads across the Line of Control (LoC).

Indian Army has said that the soldier, who belongs to the Rashtriya Rifles, was not involved in the surgical strike.

Director General of Military Operations, Lt General Ranbir Singh has written to his Pakistan counterpart for returning the soldier.

The sources however said on Monday that while the message has been received, there is no response from the other side yet.

“They have received the message, but there is no response yet,” a source said.

An official said straying across LoC happens at times as soldiers may get disoriented and lose their way.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had said on Sunday that the the mechanism through the DGMO has been activated seeking return of the soldier.

Chavan’s grandmother had passed away after hearing the news of his crossing over to Pakistan.

Article 4 of the Third Geneva Convention protects captured military personnel, some guerrilla fighters, and certain civilians. It applies from the moment a prisoner is captured until he or she is released/repatriated. One of the main provisions of the convention makes it illegal to torture prisoners and states that a prisoner can only be required to give their name, date of birth, rank and service number if applicable.

Manohar Parrikar to be felicitated by Goa BJP for his ‘achievements’ on surgical strike

Panaji: Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar would address a public gathering on 4 October in Goa where he would be felicitated by the Goa BJP for conducting surgical strike on Pakistan.

“Parrikar is expected to address more than 10,000 people at the historic Azad Maidan in Panaji on 4 October, where he would be congratulated and felicitated for the achievements over the surgical strike,” BJP Goa unit president Vinay Tendulkar told PTI.

Tendulkar claimed this would be the first public speech by the Defence Minister post the surgical strike.

A file image of Defence Minister

A file image of Defence Minister

“We are proud of his achievements and hence we want to express our sentiments to him,” he said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Parrikar will arrive at the Dabolim airport from where he would be taken in a procession to Azad Maidan.

To a question, Tendulkar said the surgical strike will be one of the issues that would be highlighted during the Goa Assembly elections due next year.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that sacrifices in Uri attack would not go in vain and he has kept the word.

Only BJP and its government have the capability to take such stern action which is historic. We will be highlighting this achievement during the forthcoming poll campaign in Goa,” Tendulkar said.

India had recently carried out surgical strikes on seven terror launch pads across the LoC with the Army saying that its special forces inflicted “significant casualties” on terrorists preparing to infiltrate from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Defence sources said seven terror launch pads across the Line of Control(LoC) were destroyed by special forces of the Indian Army on the intervening night of 28 and 29 September in a nearly five-hour-long operation during which heliborne and ground forces were deployed.

Defence Acquisition Council chaired by Manohar Parrikar clears proposals worth Rs 1,900 cr

Defence Acquisition Council chaired by Manohar Parrikar clears proposals worth Rs 1,900 cr

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New Delhi: The Defence Acquisition Council, chaired by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, on Wednesday cleared proposals worth Rs 1,900 crore (close to $3 billion), including for an electronic warfare system for low intensity conflict in Jammu and Kashmir.

A file photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTIA file photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

A file photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

The electronic warfare system is worth Rs 330 crore, an official said.

The council has also cleared proposal to buy Rs 405 crore worth of anti tank guided missiles for training purpose of the army.

The naval dockyard at Mumbai will get a repair facility for Scorpene submarines at the cost of Rs 725 crore. Defence shipyard Mazagon Dock is constructing six Scorpene submarines for Indian Navy.

The DAC has also approved a weapons repair facility at Port Blair at a cost of Rs 450 crore. All these approved proposals will be executed under ‘Buy India’ by Indian contractors.

Manohar Parrikar asks Coast Guard to bolster coastal security mechanism

New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday asked the Coast Guard to “bolster” coastal security mechanism by increasing patrolling to thwart any infiltration bid by anti-national elements through sea.

Manohar Parrikar addressing the Indian Coast Guard conference. PTI

Manohar Parrikar addressing the Indian Coast Guard conference. PTI

The coastal security should be strengthened considering the current security scenario, he said. Speaking at the 35th Coast Guard Commanders Conference, Parrikar also promised all assistance to the Coast Guard in enhancing its operational efficiency.

“Due to the current security scenario, he exhorted ICG to further bolster Coastal Security mechanism by increasing patrolling so as to avoid infiltration by anti-national elements through Sea,” the Coast Guard said in a release. The Defence Minister also complimented efforts of the Coast Guard in augmenting Maritime and Coastal security not only by deployment of assets but also by efficient exploitation of Coastal Security Network (CSN).

A modern surveillance system comprising high-resolution cameras and sensors has been installed along the coastline under the first phase of the CSN project. Parrikar hoped that CSN Phase II would also be implemented on time. He also congratulated the force for their “protracted efforts” with Pakistan and Sri Lankan security agencies which resulted in reduced apprehension of Indian fishing boats.

“The Defence Minister promised all assistance of the Ministry for cases relating to the operational efficiency and those pertaining to the growth of the service, be it the manpower or new acquisitions,” the release said. He also welcomed efforts by Coast Guard in realising the ‘Make in India’ policy by ordering indigenous ships to strengthen its fleet.

The conference was attended by senior officers of the Ministry of Defence and Indian Coast Guard (ICG). The three-day conference aims to carve out a futuristic vision for the service and to determine the modalities to overcome the challenges efficiently.

Uri attack: Manohar Parrikar admits security lapse, says ‘will correct our mistakes’

Uri attack: Manohar Parrikar admits security lapse, says ‘will correct our mistakes’

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Even as India and Pakistan are at loggerheads after Sunday’s terrorist attack on an Army camp in Uri sector of Jammu and Kashmir, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday admitted that “something went wrong” at the camp. Parrikar said that he believes in zero error and vowed to take measures so that the incident is not repeated in the future, ANI reported.

According to PTI, Parrikar further added:”PM’s statement that those behind #Uriattack will not go unpunished, will not remain a statement. We are serious about it.”

On Sunday morning, heavily armed militants had stormed a battalion headquarters of the Army in North Kashmir’s Uri town in the wee hours, killing 17 jawans and injuring 19 other personnel in the terror strike in which four terrorists were neutralised. The death toll climbed to 18 on Tuesday after another soldier succumbed to his injuries.

The attack has also led to escalation of tensions along the Line of Control in Kashmir.

As an immediate step against Pakistan, PM Modi has sought a concerted global effort to diplomatically isolate Islamabad, reported IANS.

With inputs from agencies

Manohar Parrikar launches India’s first integrated defence communication network

New Delhi: India’s first integrated defence communication network was on Thursday launched enabling the army, air force, navy and the Special Forces Command to share situational awareness for a faster decision-making process.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTIDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

The Defence Communication Network (DCN), a strategic, highly secure and scalable system, has a pan-India reach — from Ladakh to the North East to island territories.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who inaugurated the network at South Block, emphasised on the need to keep the network completely secure all the time.

He said a false sense of security and safety should not creep in and the Standard Operating Procedures should be followed.

Parrikar said this network is a step towards jointmanship that the government is pushing for in the armed forces.

While all the three forces have their own command, communication and intelligence networks, this is the first time when there will be a dedicated network for greater synergy.

“Technology decides how the wars are fought these days. The network has a pan-India reach and is a testimony to the fact that Indian Army and the Corps of Signals are well placed to meet any challenges and responsibilities which come their way,” Lt Gen Nitin Kohli, Signal Officer in Chief, said.

Built by HCL under a nearly Rs 600 crore project, DCN offers high quality voice, video and data services covering 111 entities spread across the country.

It is capable of working on terrestrial as well as satellite mode of communication and has also been fixed
onboard different military vehicles.

Defence imports will come down to 49 percent: Manohar Parrikar

Bhubaneswar: Union Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Sunday the Centre has decided to double the production capacity of two defence establishments in Odisha and concrete steps are being taken to make India an export hub in defence and make it self-reliant.

“The government has taken steps in defence sector by increasing FDI. This has been done in order to make India an export hub over the years,” he said while addressing a meeting with the ex-servicemen in Bhubaneswar.

Manohar ParrikarManohar Parrikar

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Rejecting apprehension that local manufacturers would be affected after allowing FDI in the sector, the Defence Minister said when the NDA government came to power, rate of import of defence material by India was 70 percent.

“Now, import of defence items has come down to below 60 percent. I can assure that by the time the government ends its first term, we will be able to bring down our imports to 40 percent,” Parrikar said.

Talking about the ‘One Rank One Pension’ (OROP) issue, he said its implementation has got delayed as the ex-servicemen have not been able to furnish the required documents on time.

After meeting the representatives of employees union of defence establishments in the state, Parrikar said the production capacity of of HAL, Sunabeda will be doubled in 3-4 years.

The expansion work will start at Sunabeda in 6 to 7 months, he said.

He added that the local BJP leaders have urged him to take steps for enhancing the production capacity of the ordnance factory in Badmal.

“We can help create some employment without taking token money from the candidate,” Parrikar said, adding the local manufacturers will not be affected by the entry of FDI in defence sector.

He also took out time to meet Prasant Kumar Patnaik, his former teacher at IIT, Bombay.

Defence Minister Parrikar condemns attack on BJP leaders in Odisha

Bhubaneshwar: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday condemned the attack on the vehicles of BJP leaders allegedly by Biju Janata Dal (BJD) workers in Odisha and dared the ruling party to target him.

“I am the defence minister of the country. If anyone (BJD) has guts, let him come in front of me,” Parrikar told reporters.

The Odisha government is feeling insecure even though the assembly elections are three years away, he said.

“The ground under their feet is slipping. They are doing this out of fear,” said Parrikar.

He said the incident in Bargarh district on 24 June—in which some BJD leaders allegedly attacked the convoy of central ministers Santosh Gangwar and Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and former Jharkhand chief minister Arjun Munda—was pre-planned and condemnable.

File photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTIFile photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

File photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

The three were attacked in the district town when they were on their way to attend Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) Vikas Ustav in Bargarh.

Union Drinking Water and Sanitation Minister Ram Kripal Yadav and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan also criticised the ruling BJD.

“It is a very unfortunate incident. I had never seen such incident anywhere else in the country. What happened in Bargarh is open hooliganism,” said Yadav who represents Bihar’s Pataliputra constituency in the Lok Sabha.

He said Bihar also suffers from bitter political divisions, but there is no goondaism among the parties.

“The politics of this kind can be possible only in Odisha, not in any other part of this country. I strongly condemn this incident. There is no place for such hooliganism in a democracy,” he added.

Petroleum Minister Pradhan said the ruling party has resorted to undemocratic processes.

“The people of Odisha always believe in the democratic process. Slippers, sticks, stones and using filthy language are utterly undemocratic methods. As the ground under their feet is slipping, they have become totalitarian,” said Pradhan.

Parrikar, Yadav and Pradhan were in Odisha to attend BJP’s Vikas Ustav in Cuttack on Sunday.

The ruling BJD has been trying to make light of the incident and denying responsibility.

“There was no attack on anyone. The issueless BJP is making it an issue unnecessarily. The police is investigating into the matter,” said BJD MP Prasanna Acharya.

Meanwhile, the state BJP has decided to stage block-level demonstrations on 29 June to protest against the attack on its leaders’ vehicles. It will also hold a demonstration in front of Raj Bhavan here on 4 July.

Attack on CRPF personnel in Jammu and Kashmir an act of frustration: Manohar Parrikar

Bhubaneswar: Condemning the terrorist attack on a CRPF bus near Pampore in Jammu and Kashmir a day earlier, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday said it is an act of frustration and assured the government will deal with such incidents strongly.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTIDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

“In the last one month, over 25 terrorists have been killed by security personnel in Jammu and Kashmir. It is an act of frustration on their part to show that they still hold power,” the minister said while addressing an ex-servicemen’s convention here.

Calling it a very unfortunate incident, Parrikar said he had doubts if the standard operating procedure (SOP) was followed in the case.

He, however, said the exact reason of the incident will only come out after inquiry.

“This nation has to seek peace. We seek peace, but from a position of strength and not from a position of weakness,” he added.

Parrikar said that after becoming the Defence Minister, he had told soldiers to retaliate in case of a terrorist attack.

“… I told jawans that if terrorists attack you, you don’t need to stop; you have all the freedom to retaliate,” the minister said.

Eight Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed and 22 others wounded when terrorists attacked a bus carrying security personnel in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday.

Addressing a press conference later, he welcomed the changes in the Foreign Direct Investment policy in the defence sector.

“The government has taken a big step in the defence sector by increasing the FDI. This has been done so that India becomes an ‘export hub’ over the years,” the minister said.

He said the capacity of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s MiG factory in Odisha’s Sunabeda will be doubled within two to four years.

Parrikar also highlighted several central welfare programmes initiated for the benefit of the people.

Do joint exercises with friendly foreign countries esp South East Asia: Parrikar to armed forces

New Delhi: On Thursay Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar directed the armed forces to carry out joint exercises with friendly foreign countries specially, in South East Asia, in tune with India’s ‘Act East Policy’.

He also asked them to optimise resources and enhance cost effectiveness even as he exhorted them to exploit joint capabilities for predominant role in the volatile region around the country.

Parrikar reviewed key security issues facing the nation and important strategic, operational, administrative and logistics aspects pertaining to tri-services were also deliberated upon.

“To keep in tune with the India’s Act East Policy, Parrikar urged the Armed Forces for conduct of joint exercises involving more than one Service with our friendly foreign countries specially, in South East Asia,” a defence ministry statement said.

He stressed on the need for jointness of the three services to optimise resources and enhance cost effectiveness, so that maximum funds can be made available for modernisation of the armed forces, it said.

A file photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

A file photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Parrikar while addressing the two-day Annual Unified Commanders’ Conference here, said by virtue of India’s dominant geographical location, the country is poised for a predominant role in the volatile region around us.

The minister said, hence, there is a requirement to exploit this advantage by developing joint capabilities.

In order to achieve self-reliance, he emphasised on ‘Make in India’ initiative and indigenisation of defence production.

He commended the armed forces for their devotion to duty and the stellar role played by them in safeguarding the country’s unity and integrity. The minister also paid homage to all valiant soldiers, sailors and air warriors for their supreme sacrifice in honour of the nation.

Earlier, opening remarks were given by the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha covering tri-services issues.

Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag and Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba addressed the conclave highlighting the major issues pertaining to their respective Services. ‘

A report covering major achievements on key tri-services issue was presented by Officiating Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee Air Marshal A S Bhonsle.

During the day-long conference, key security issues facing the nation and important strategic, operational, logistical, administrative aspects pertaining to tri-services were deliberated upon.

The function was attended by Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh, Deputy National Security Advisor Arvind Gupta, among others.

Manohar Parrikar to witness historic commissioning of three women fighter pilots

Hyderabad: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will attend the commissioning ceremony of three women officers
as the fighter pilots for the first time in the IAF history on 18 June at Air Force Academy in Dundigal near Hyderabad.

On the occasion, Parrikar will review the Passing out Parade and confer the ‘President’s Commission’ to 129 graduating trainees of various branches including 22 women trainees.

The graduation parade, which will be held as part of successful completion of the pre-commissioning training by the flight cadets of various branches of Indian Air Force will be a landmark event in the history of IAF, as the first three women pilots will be commissioned in the fighter stream of the flying branch, a defence release stated on Friday.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

The women to be inducted as fighter pilots are Bhavana Kant, Mohana Singh and Avani Chaturvedi.

They will go to Bidar in Karnataka for their stage-III training for a year on Hawk advanced jet trainers, before they get to fly supersonic warplanes.

Six female cadets were competing to become fighter pilots after the government, in a landmark move, approved an IAF plan in October to induct them as fighter pilots.

However, only three female trainees were selected for the fighter stream.

Parrikar will also present the ‘wings and brevets’ to the newly-commissioned officers of the flying branch and to the officers from sister services i.e. Navy and Coast Guard who have successfully undergone the flying training.

The reviewing officer will present the President’s Plaque and the Sword of Honour to the flight cadet standing first in the order of merit in ‘flying branch’ who will have the privilege of commanding the parade, stated the release.

The reviewing officer will also award the President’s Plaque to the toppers (first in overall merit) in the navigation and ground duty branches of the graduating course.

Pulgaon Fire: Death toll rises to 18, Parrikar rules out sabotage

The death toll in the Pulgaon fire mishap on Wednesday rose to 18 as two more bodies were recovered from the site, according to a PTI report. While the two bodies recovered are yet to be identified, the rescue teams are still looking for one missing person.

The massive fire that broke out in the early hours of Tuesday morning, at the central ammunition depot, the largest stockpile of ammunition in the country, in Pulgaon, Wardha district was finally doused at 4 pm on Tuesday afternoon.

PulgaonPulgaon

One of the sheds that housed “highly sensitive” ammunition in the high security central ammunition depot (CAD), spread over 7,000 acres, was the first to catch fire. Once ablaze, loud explosions followed as the fire raged.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in a statement said there was no sabotage involved, but the exact cause could be known only after the enquiry.

The army was quick to take charge. The nearby villages were evacuated and army helicopters were sent in service to help in evacuation of the injured personnel according to an Indian Express report.

“In our efforts to douse the fire, two officers and 14 personnel, including one jawan and 13 civilian firefighting staff, lost their lives, while two officers and 15 personnel, including nine jawans and six civilian firefighting staff, were injured. A court of inquiry has been ordered by the army,” the Ministry of Defence stated in a press release.

The Pulgaon explosion, indicates that the authorities have not paid heed to the findings of the Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG) audit report on ‘Ammunition Management in the Army’, submitted last year, reports Pune Mirror.

The report had raised questions over safety measures followed at the ammunition depots, stating that “The depots were functioning with risk of fire accidents, as the firefighting equipment were not as per equirement/authorisation”.

Lt Gen Ashok Joshi, explosives expert said “Something has gone abnormally wrong at CAD, Pulgaon. It is a well-organised depot and every material is kept separately. Atmospheric temperature alone cannot be the reason behind the fire.”

Along with launching an inquiry, the army has also sent a medical team comprising a neurologist, anaesthetist and forensic experts from the Southern Command to Pulgaon, reports The Indian Express.

With inputs from PTI.

Disappointing figures for FDI in defence indicate that a greater push is needed

According to Japanese firm Nomura, foreign direct investment (FDI) in India during financial year 2015 was to the tune of US$ 34.9 billion. This is a massive 61.6% jump from US$ 21.6 billion during 2014. According to the report, the FY 2015 inflows are 1.7% of GDP, up from 1.1% in the previous year. The obvious reason is India opening up to the world, remodeling its economic policies and in particular the ‘Make in India’ call given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Economic Survey released on 27 February this year states that FDI in India has received a dramatic boost from the launch of the Make in India initiative, major objectives behind the Make in India being job creation and skill enhancement in 25 sectors of the economy, including automobiles, aviation, biotechnology, chemicals, construction, defence manufacturing, electrical machinery, electronic systems and mining.
After the September 2014 launch of ‘Make in India, there was an almost 40% increase in FDI inflows from October 2014 to June 2015 over a similar period in previous year. Entities from several countries like Japan, China, France and South Korea announced their intention to invest in India in various industrial and infrastructure projects. According to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP): FDI inflows under the approval route (which requires prior government permission) increased by 87% during 2014-15 with an inflow of $2.22 billion; more than 90% of FDI was through the automatic route, and; during 2014-15, foreign institutional investment rose by an unprecedented 717% to $40.92 billion.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Under the Make in India program, the government has reportedly awarded 56 defence manufacturing permits to private sector entities in the past one year, after allowing 49% FDI in the defence sector in August 2014, compared with 47 granted in the preceding three years. Singapore, Mauritius, Netherlands and the US account for the major share of FDI inflows into India. Out of FDI equity inflows of $24.8 billion during 2015-16 (April-November), more than 60% came from Singapore and Mauritius.
However, when the figures of FDI in defence were laid down in Parliament on 29 April 2016, they were quite disappointing. The written reply given by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar read, “The actual flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) takes time to mature. From August 2014 to February 2016, a total amount of Rs.112.35 lakh (Rs 1.12 crore) has come into the country as FDI in the defence sector”. This actually amounts to a pittance compared to the overall FDI coming in and the Make in India campaign. There is no doubt that funds flowing in through FDI are also suspect with ongoing investigations in the VVIP helicopter scam indicating possibility of bribe money of some Rs 100-120 crore having come through FDI. Significantly, the Economic Survey mentioned herein also states, “These inflows need perhaps to be examined more closely to determine whether they constitute actual investment or are diversions from other sources to avail of tax benefits under the Double Tax Avoidance Agreement that these countries have with India.”
Notwithstanding the above, there is a need to seriously examine why the defence sector has failed to attract FDI even in the backdrop that when the Modi government took over in May 2014, it hiked the FDI limit from 26% to 49% in defence equipment manufacturing, and also announced the ‘Make in India’ campaign to encourage Indian industry to take over some sections of manufacturing which were being imported. Significantly, the Parliament had also approved FDI in defence sector beyond 49% on case-to-case basis, obviously for state-of-the-art products. The hesitation of FDI in defence is because of multiple factors, as discussed in succeeding paragraphs.
-First, the DPP-2016 issued is incomplete: criteria for choosing strategic partners are not defined; whether wholly-owned subsidiaries of foreign companies qualify as Indian Offset Partners (IOPs) is not clear; detailed offset guidelines not notified; no changes mentioned to the Technology Perspective and Capability Roadmap (TPCR) in vogue in the past decade and a half which hasn’t helped much; no worthwhile changes in other procedures including the Fast Track Procedure (FTP); no changes in the Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) mechanism in terms of combining it with TEC or Staff Evaluation Committee and raising its threshold from the existing INR 300 crores as also dropping of the DPSU member as recommended by the defence private industry, and; chapter containing the revised standard contract document as well as various annexure and appendices has not been released.
-Second, just facilitating foreign companies to bypass government and the FIPB in finalizing defence investment deals is unlikely to suffice. The issues of IPR and the number and guarantee of what would be absorbed in India too need to be addressed.
-Third, The private sector continues to doubt the government’s resolve in providing a level playing field. Many of them cite example of the Army’s Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) project where fresh expression of interest (EoI) was issued in March 2014, yet four entities empanelled in 2010 were also included, which they feel was done only to accommodate the OFB. They visualize OFB being selected as one of the development agency, leaving just one remaining vacancy for balance private industry.

-Fourth, while Parliament approved FDI in defence beyond 49% on case to case basis in 2014, MoD has still to define what “state-of-the-art”. This is an atrocious state of affairs, which has only come to light when FIPB was questioned about the Tata-AugustaWestland JV to manufacture helicopters in India. Obviously all cases pertaining to FDI in defence beyond 49% are stuck because of the same reason.
So, when Defence Minister Parrikar told Parliament “The actual flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) takes time to mature”, it obviously includes the incompetent bureaucracy of MoD which is unable to define past two years what state-of-the-art implies. Can you have a better example of red tape, that too in backdrop of mounting criticalities of the military that includes a void of 1000 helicopters? In the past several years, the DIPP of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has been recommending 74% FDI in defence in case of ToT and 100% FDI in case of making available state-of-the-art technology.

Clearly much more facilitation for Make in India is required. The government must also get on with the vital need to reorganize the higher defence set up, which is adversely affecting the defence of India. It is time to bring military professionals in MoD, as also having a defence secretary from outside the IAS, as recently suggested by Ashish Puntambekar, Designer, Defence Economic Zone Project through a letter to the Defence Minister, post his exasperating experiences with MoD bureaucrats. Revelations from the ongoing AugustaWestalnd helicopter scam also underline the urgent need for reorganizing the MoD.

The author is veteran Lieutenant General of Indian Army.

Despite quality training, India has lost 41 soldiers to Siachen Glacier since 2013

New Delhi: Forty-one soldiers have lost their lives in Siachen Glacier since 2013, the government said on Friday.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in a written reply in Lok Sabha said 10 soldiers were killed in 2013, eight and nine in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

“Till 31 March, 14 soldiers have died this year,” Parrikar said.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Troops being posted in high altitude areas are trained in ‘Basic and Advance’ skills in mountains and snow-bound areas, he said, adding medical equipment exist in all posts to cater for emergencies.

Best quality of winter clothing and equipment is procured to prevent weather-related casualties.

Modern means of conveyance like snow scooters are utilised to ensure timely reaction to any eventuality and reduce fatigue.

A number of specialised equipment have also been deployed in avalanche- prone areas, he said.

VVIP chopper scam: SC to hear AgustaWestland PIL in the first week of May

A PIL on AgustaWestland will be admitted and heard in Supreme Court in the first week of May, CNN News 18 reported.

CBI chief Anil Sinha briefed Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on the VVIP chopper scam investigation on Thursday. Parrikar later asked CBI to expedite the investigation.

According to media reports, the Defence Ministry will reply on AgustaWestland scam in first week of May.

Manohar Parrikar. AFPManohar Parrikar. AFP

Manohar Parrikar. AFP

The Defence Ministry in a statement on Thursday said that the government will leave no stone unturned in pursuing all means to bring to justice the corrupt and the wrong-doers in this case.

Refuting the Congress claims that the Anglo-Italian helicopter maker AgustaWestland was blacklisted by the UPA
government, it said it was the NDA, on 3 July, 2014, that had actually put on hold all procurement and acquisition cases in
the pipeline of six companies involved in the VVIP chopper scam.

CBI and Enforcement Directorate are vigorously pursuing all aspects of the investigation, including the arrest and extradition of three alleged middlemen of the deal – Carlo Gerosa, Guido Haschke Ralph and Christian Michel James.

“Publicly available information on the procurement of AgustaWestland helicopters clearly shows that the core issue in the matter is corruption. The present government has taken effective action to bring out the truth and will leave no
stone unturned in pursuing all means to bring to justice the corrupt and the wrong-doers in this case,” a statement
released by the ministry said.

With inputs from PTI

India attaches highest priority to ties with China: Parrikar

Beijing: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday said that India attaches highest priority to its ties with China, allaying Beijing’s concerns over New Delhi’s any tilt towards the US in view of its decision to sign an agreement with Washington to share military bases.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTIDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

In a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan, Parrikar said that “India attaches highest priority to relations with China and was committed to further developing friendly and cooperative relations with China”.

Allaying China’s concerns over India’s decision to sign Logistics Support Agreement with the US, Parrikar told the Chinese leader that India pursued autonomous policy to further its national interests and there is no change in it.

“India is committed to further developing friendly and corporative relations with China,” he told Chang.

Parrikar later met China’s highest military official Gen Fan Changlong, the Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, which is the overall commanding body of the 2.3 million strong military. It is headed by President Xi Jinping.

The defence minister would meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday and later visit Chengdu, the headquarters of recently integrated western command military which has jurisdiction over entire borders with India.

While the two countries discussed expediting efforts to establish hotline between the two military headquarters and more confidence building measures like opening of more border points for interactions with troops on the grounds, Parrikar reiterated India’s stand for demarcation of the 3,488-km long Line of Actual Control (LAC) which was proposed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s visit to China last year.

China, however, expressed reservations over such a move.

Terming the recurring incidents of Chinese troops entering what India claims as its territory as “transgressions not incursions”, Parrikar said clarity over LAC will bring down tensions between the troops on both sides which aggressively patrol the areas to assert their control.

“We are insisting it should be done in order to really ensure a very stable border…because all the issues take place because of perception,” he said.

Marking the LAC is “one of the preconditions of smooth border operations. Without that everything goes by perceptions…which has caused problems sometimes”, he said.

The issue was expected to be further discussed during 19th round of boundary talks between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi in Beijing this week.

The two officials were designated Special Representatives to address the boundary dispute.

On establishing hotline, Parrikar said that China has responded to India’s memorandum on the technicalities and progress was expected to be made in this regard in the next few months. It was agreed during Prime Minister Modi’s visit.

“A lot of issues were discussed. We have generally agreed to enhance the bilateral exchanges at military level and at ministry level,” he said.

Border management was one of the issues discussed and discussions focused on steps to improve the conditions on the ground, the minister said.

Currently, both sides opened five border points for interactions with the troops and talks are on to open more such points, he said.

Asked about China’s Maritime Silk Road initiative specially in the Indian Ocean over which India has reservations, Parrikar said the issue of peace and stability of the Indian Ocean was raised.

He said the Chinese officials also raised the issue of South China Sea where China is in maritime dispute with a number of south east Asian countries.

He reiterated India’s policy that restraint should be exercised in dealing with it.

Commenting on External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s meeting with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on day and the forthcoming visit of Doval, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the meetings show that mutual political trust between China and India have increased, and bilateral exchanges and cooperation are advancing.

Although China and India have some differences, both sides are willing to effectively control and solve the issues through friendly negotiations and consultations, Lu said.

In fact, China and India have always maintained close high-level contacts, he told the media here.

The development of China-India relations is not only in line with their interests but also conducive to regional and global peace and stability, Lu stressed, noting China and India are the two biggest developing countries, important emerging economies and major powers in a multi-polar world.

“We are ready to work with India to constantly make new progress on building the China-India Strategic and Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Prosperity,” he said.

PTI

Parrikar reaches China for first official visit, may discuss veto on Masood Azhar

Beijing: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday arrived in Beijing on his first official visit to China for high-level talks with top military officials to consolidate ties between the armed forces of the two countries.

Parrikar arrived from Shanghai by a special aircraft and will hold talks with top Chinese officials, including Defence Minister Gen Chang Wanquan and Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) Gen Fan Changlong on Sunday. He is also due to call on Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. Later, he would visit China’s recently integrated western command military headquarters which has jurisdiction over border with India.

Parrikar is accompanied by senior officials from army and navy, besides the defence ministry.

Manohar Parrikar. File photo. IBNLiveManohar Parrikar. File photo. IBNLive

Manohar Parrikar. File photo. IBNLive

Indian officials said the visit is aimed at further consolidating the defence relations between the two countries which showed considerable improvement in the last few years with periodic high-level interactions between the two armed forces.

Parrikar’s five-day visit will be immediately followed by a visit by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, who is scheduled to hold the 19th Boundary Dialogue with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi later next week.

Doval and Yang, who are designated Special Representatives for boundary talks, also have a mandate to discuss entire gamut of bilateral issues.

The contentious issue of China blocking India’s attempts in the UN to ban Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e- Mohammad’s chief Masood Azhar is expected to figure in their talks.

Before leaving for Beijing, Parrikar visited Urban Planning Exhibition Centre in Shanghai where he was briefed by the Chinese officials on the urban planning achievements in China’s biggest metropolis which has a population of over 22 million. The briefing focused on use of innovative technologies and smart city transportations, Indian Consulate in Shanghai said in a statement.

He also addressed members of the Indian community at a meeting held at the Shanghai Consulate where he spoke of his government’s “steadfast commitment” at securing interests of Indians living abroad.

The defence minister said there was a significant momentum in India’s economy, which had been successful in attracting large investments under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

He also answered questions from the audience on issues ranging from India’s self-reliance in defence production, education to high-end technologies and retaining skilled talented students, the statement said.

Rafale jets: Negotiations between India and France over landmark deal reach ‘final stages’

The negotiations over the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets have enered the “final stages” as both India and France have managed to narrow down their differences over the pricing.

Government sources said that the deal has not been concluded yet but it is in “final stages”.

The development came nearly four months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande signed a memorandum of agreement (MoU) to purchase 36 Rafale combat jets.

A Rafale jet. Image courtesy: WikiCommonsA Rafale jet. Image courtesy: WikiCommons

A Rafale jet. Image courtesy: WikiCommons

The Indian side has been negotiating hard to bring down the price of the Rafale deal.

Sources said the price for 36 Rafales, as per the UPA tender, keeping the cost escalation and dollar rate in mind, comes to a little over Rs 65,000 crore. This includes the cost involved in making changes India has sought in the aircraft, including Israeli helmet mounted display and some specific weaponry, among others.

“The effort is to bring down the price to less than Euros 8 billion (Rs 59,000 crore),” the sources said.

Sources said the French have more or less agreed to Indian terms.

The expectation is that the final deal will be clinched by May-end.

The deal comes with the clause of delivering 50 per cent offsets, creating business worth at least 3 billion Euros for smaller Indian companies and creating thousands of new jobs in India through the offsets.

In fact, the toughest phase in the negotiations that began in July 2015 – three months after Modi announced in Paris India’s plan to purchase 36 Rafale jets – was to get the French to agree to 50 per cent offsets in the deal.

Initially, Dassault Aviation was willing to agree to reinvest only 30 per cent of the value of its contract in Indian entities to meet the offset obligations.

The French side finally agreed to invest 50 per cent of the value following a phone conversation between Modi and Hollande late last year.

The commercial negotiations, as in the pricing of the planes, equipment and other issues, actually began only in mid-January this year.

Under the proposed deal, French companies apart from Dassault Aviation, will provide several aeronautics, electronics and micro-electronics technologies to comply with the offset obligation.

Companies like Safran and Thales will join Dassault in providing state-of-art technologies in stealth, radar, thrust vectoring for missiles and materials for electronics and micro-electronics.

Indo-US strategic relationship: Why the balance is not in India’s favour

US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter’s visit to India coincided with the statement by Vice Admiral Joseph P Aucoin, Commander, US Seventh Fleet, that the US will look at keeping the sea lanes of communication open and also keep a check on North Korea.

US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter. ReutersUS Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter. Reuters

US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter. Reuters

“The best and the brightest are being shifted to this part of the world. Almost 60 percent of our submarines are in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Within the next couple of years, 60 percent of our surface ships will be here too …. North Korea is a threat. Our number one concern is to protect Japan, South Korea and our country,” Aucoin said.

He added that F35-B stealth aircraft will be deployed on USS Wasp next January and that platform will be replaced by the USS America, America’s newest amphibian vessel, indicating US really means shifting to the Pacific.

Ashton Carter, who has visited India many times and in his previous avatar as Under Secretary of Defence for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, had kick started the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) jointly with India in 2012. His visit in June 2015 resulted in both countries signing the new Framework for the India-US Defence Relationship, which Carter described as setting the US and India on a path to increase broad, complex and strategic cooperation to help safeguard security and stability across the region. India and the US share the vision for peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region, as outlined in the Joint Strategic Vision that President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi released in January 2015. Carter’s recent visit marked the fourth meeting between him and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar within a year.

The US has been pressing India past decade to sign the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) as part of military cooperation, in addition to the Communication Inter-operability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) on transfer of technology, and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for sharing geospatial intelligence – mapping data and imagery. This was perhaps the crux of what then President George W Bush meant by saying, “India must fall in place.” The most important development during the recent visit of Ashton Carter therefore is India agreeing in principle to sign the LSA, albeit Parrikar described it as Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMO) which will be signed in “coming months”. As per Ministry of Defence sources, LEMO will be tailored to Indian needs though its nuances have not been elaborated and no date decided when it would be signed.

While reviewing the progress of DTTI and commending on-going discussions by the Jet Engine Technology Joint Working Group (JETJWG) and the Joint Working Group on Aircraft Carrier Technology Cooperation (JWGACTC), Parrikar and Carter agreed to initiate two new DTTI pathfinder projects on Digital Helmet Mounted Displays and the Joint Biological Tactical Detection System. They agreed to work towards greater cooperation in fields of cutting-edge defence technologies, including deepening consultations on aircraft carrier design and operations, and jet engine technology. They noted the understanding reached to conclude an information exchange annex (IEA) to enhance data and information sharing specific to aircraft carriers.

Both sides agreed to: expand collaboration under the DTTI; explore new opportunities to deepen cooperation in maritime security and Maritime Domain Awareness including the desire to expeditiously conclude a “white shipping” technical arrangement to improve data sharing on commercial shipping traffic; enhance military-to-military relations including discussions on submarine safety and anti-submarine warfare. The two countries also agreed to knowledge partnership in the field of defence and commitment to work together and with other nations to ensure the security and stability at regional and international level.

Both sides reaffirmed the importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and over flight throughout the region, including in the South China Sea, vowing support for a rules-based order and regional security architecture conducive to peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean. Parrikar and Carter welcomed finalisation of four government-to-government project agreements in the area of science and technology cooperation: Atmospheric Sciences for High Energy Lasers, Cognitive Tools for Target Detection, Small Intelligent Unmanned Aerial Systems, and Blast and Blunt Traumatic Brain Injury.

India may be ‘falling in place’ from the US angle but from the Indian perspective, there are many concerns that remain unaddressed. Carter talked of the US Rebalance to Asia and the Pacific and India’s ‘Act East’ policy coinciding in the Indo-Pacific region. But in all parleys with the US including this one, while there is mention of Indo-Pacific, the US emphasis remains primarily on SCS and North Korea while India’s strategic concerns especially along her western and north-western flank are grossly neglected. On the contrary, the US continues to strengthen the Pakistani military both militarily and financially, ignoring the proxy war that the Pakistani military is waging on India and Afghanistan, in addition to sustained genocide on the populations of Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan. Merely saying that US too is affected by terrorism emanating from Pakistan and that perpetrators of the Pathankot air base terrorist attack must be brought to book is lip service, as has been done by US officials in the past.

Additionally, over the past half decade, US think tanks have been working hard building perceptions about an Indo-Pak nuclear war and vehemently proposing India should reduce its engagement with Afghanistan, even as he US encourages Pakistani forays into Afghanistan under cover of the preposterous premise that Pakistan will bring the Taliban into the peace process. Should the US not be addressing these strategic concerns of India? Why should India not be interested in the stability of Afghanistan? During a talk at a think tank in New Delhi, a senior US diplomat mentioned that India does not have very many friends. But can this cliché to be used to make India sacrifice its strategic interests?

As for the nuclear threat, whether through terrorism, tactical or strategic, there is no denying that the China-Pakistan-North Korea axis is the most dangerous in the world. Thomas Reed, former US Air Force Secretary writes in his book The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and its Proliferation that China had intentionally proliferated nuclear technology to risky regimes, particularly Pakistan. Reed told US News that China under Deng Xiaoping, decided to proliferate nuclear technology to communists and radical Muslims in the third world based on the strategy that if west started getting nuked by Muslim terrorists or another communist country without Chinese fingerprints, it would be good for China. This is how Pakistan and North Korea were transformed into China’s nuclear talons. So, why talk of only North Korea or China-North Korea, not China-Pakistan-North Korea being the Devil’s own?

The US made Pakistan join GWOT under threat of otherwise “being bombed into stone age”. Pakistan was nuclear then too. There is no reason why the US cannot force Pakistan stop exporting terror. More significantly, 60 percent of US Navy is being redeployed to Asia-pacific since China’s aggressive expansion to effectively control SCS is linked to her eventual aim to advance SSBNs from SCS to Pacific Ocean. But, what about the US rebalance also focusing on China racing through Pakistan to Gwadar, homing on to the Arabian Sea, Straits of Hormuz and the Indian Ocean? Is this not equally important strategically, if not more?

Coming to the DTTI, post 9/11 Robert Blackwill, then US Ambassador to India had declared that as far as US cooperation with India goes, sky is the limit but nothing much happened in the field of equipment and technology transfer. Even the equipment sought through FMS has still not fetched up totally. So the proof of the pudding lies in its eating. If the US really wants to help India militarily, the domains of cyber, space and electromagnetic too need to be equally addressed, optimizing artificial intelligence and miniaturization. On the India side, MoD needs to go all out to ensure that technology sought is absorbed speedily. The issue of DPP 2016 after months of deliberations without benchmarks for choosing strategic partners, without qualifying whether wholly-owned subsidiaries of foreign companies qualify as Indian Offset Partners (IOPs), without notifying detailed offset guidelines, and chapter containing the revised standard contract document as well as various annexure and appendices still not released, all indicate a haphazard approach.

On balance, without addressing the above concerns, the India-US Defence Relationship will remain incomplete.

The author is veteran Special Forces of Indian Army.

Pakistan probe team at Pathankot airbase, Punjab’s Opposition parties threaten protest

Pathankot: A five-member Pakistani joint investigation team (JIT) accompanied by Indian officials on Tuesday visited the “sanitised” areas at Pathankot airbase in connection with probe into the January 2 terror attack targeting the strategic installation.

The JIT members, who arrived in New Delhi on Sunday and had day-long meetings with National Investigation Agency (NIA) officers, left for Amritsar on Tuesday morning en route to Pathankot.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Tight security arrangements have been made in and around the frontier IAF base in view of the visit and likely protests against the visiting Pakistani investigation team.

Punjab Opposition parties, the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), have said that they will hold protests near the AFS against the visit.

Authorities at Pathankot airbase said that the visiting Pakistan probe team will be taken only to specific and limited areas within the sprawling Air Force Station (AFS) complex.

The JIT members will be kept away from the AFS’ technical area and shown only those areas where security forces engaged the Pakistani terrorists in the first week of January.

“We have, physically and visually, barricaded the airbase. Tent walls have been erected around the crime scene (shootout site) and nothing else will be visible to the JIT members. Their entry will also be through a special gate through the rear portion of the airbase,” an IAF officer told IANS.

Punjab Police DIG (deputy inspector general) Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh said that the Pakistan JIT will be taken by the NIA to the site of the gunbattle.

“The team will be provided access to the area of the encounter,” Singh said.

Informed defence sources here said the team members could also be shown the bodies of the killed terrorists kept in a government mortuary.

NIA officers will accompany the JIT members.

The JIT will not get to interact with IAF or other defence and security officials and personnel involved in the 80-hour counter-operation by security forces against the terrorists who attacked the airbase in the early hours of 2 January.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Monday in Panaji (Goa) that the Pakistani team would not have access to the operational area of the airbase, but only the isolated “crime scene”, which has been completely barricaded and fenced.

All the terrorists and seven security personnel were killed at the base.

The January attack on the IAF base was the second one by suspected Pakistani terrorists. A group of three Pakistani terrorists had attacked Dinanagar town in adjoining Gurdaspur district on 27 July last year, leaving seven people dead.

IANS

Defence Procurement Procedure 2016: An ambitious roadmap for India’s industrial defence base

The Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP), unveiled on Monday, has laid out the process for acquisition of equipment for the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force. An attempt has been to make the system more transparent and cut out delays But the centerpiece of the new policy is to boost home grown defence industry and give a fillip to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative.

At the heart of the DPP is a new category for indigenously designed, developed and manufactured equipment. Simply put, it allows India’s fledging private sector a much bigger role in production of military hardware. Equipment manufactured in this homegrown category will get preference or to put it in officialese, will be the “preferred category” to supply the defence forces.

But the DPP remains a work-in-progress with defence minister Manohar Parrikar saying that a review will be undertaken after six months.

File image of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

File image of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

“I do not say the document is foolproof. Let us take a review after six months. Nothing is perfect, but we are taking it to perfection,” he said. Also, a key element in the DPP, the part dealing with the ‘strategic partnership’ has not yet been finalised. This is because opinion remains divided within the government on this sensitive issue.

The new policy gives India’s private sector both the support and freedom to design, develop and manufacture defence components with the help of foreign partners of its choosing. This can be done by a joint venture with a foreign collaborator without having to get the signature of a joint secretary sitting in the defence ministry. For years the armament industry had been the exclusive preserve of public sector utilities (PSU). The state-run giants have been pampered and crores have been sunk into locally-made equipment that has taken decades to develop. Since Independence, India has sought to be self-reliant in manufacturing defence equipment.

But the effort was to have state-run units take on the responsibility.

Naresh Chandra, former Indian ambassador to Washington, believes that successive governments have protected the defence PSUs.”Money was sunk into these industries with no hope of returns. There are huge vested interests,” said Chandra.

The new policy will help the private sector to set the base for the development of India’s defence industrial complex, which has so long been under the strangehold of the defence ministry babus. Importantly this will also create jobs for India’s teeming workforce. Not that the situation will change immediately, these are at best baby steps towards building a self reliant defence manufacturing base for the future. The new DPP would help India reduce its dependency on foreign countries and source defence equipment within the country.

If the government’s ambitious plans for indigenous manufacturing take off properly, India can save as much as $50 billion from its likely spend of over $260 billion on defence equipment in the next 12 years, says an Ernst and Young report. This is a distinct advantage. India’s private sector has welcomed the new policy. “By introducing and according the highest priority to ‘Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured procurement’, DPP 2016 will definitely spur more design development activities within the country and contribute towards much higher indigenous content and will finally create a vibrant domestic defence industrial base,’’ Chandrajit Banerjee, director-general, Confederation of Indian Industry.

The private sector is already in the field, but in a small way. FDI in defence was raised from 26 percent to 49 percent soon after the Modi government came to power. The latest announcement will give them the much needed impetus to go ahead without looking over their shoulders. Significant players like the Tatas, L&T, Reliance, Punj Loyd, Fokker Elmo and India Forge, Mahindra and Mahindra, are already in the field. Lars Olof Lindgren of SAAB, the Swedish aerospace and defence corporation, believes India has the potential to do well in the high-tech sector.

L&T had already tied up with a South Korean company to manufacture ammunition for K9-self propelled rifles. The joint venture private companies are also hoping to make assault rifles. Tata is in the field with collaboration for the C-130 Hercules aircraft with Lockheed Martin and  C-17 aircraft with Boeing. More such joint ventures are expected to gather momentum.

Among the three services, the Indian Navy has been the best in sourcing equipment from the country. In fact, it has done well. The Navy had a design bureau in its ranks since the 1950s. This is why the Navy is able to build the platform for its warships and patrol boats. In fact, India sold its first offshore patrol vessel (the Barracuda) to Mauritus for a cool $58.5 million in December 2014.

The sale was commissioned when Modi visited the island state.

India is also building a nuclear-powered submarine (the Arihant) with Russian help. It has already had its sea trial and was supposed to be part of the International Fleet Review, but did not make it. Most of the warships and patrol boats used by the Navy are homegrown, though of course, the engine and much of the equipment is imported. But that is common all across the world. So if the Navy can do it, so can the Army and Air Force.

But that will take time. However, India is on its way to building an industrial defence base in the coming years.

More transparency, speed: Manohar Parrikar unveils new defence procurement policy

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar unveiled the much-awaited Defence Procurement Procedure, saying it will ensure transparency and speed in acquisition process and boost the ‘Make in India’ initiative to reduce dependence on imports.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. AFPDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar. AFP

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. AFP

“The Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) can push the agenda of’Make in India’ and India’s target of achieving defence industry network,” Parrikar said at the inauguration of four-day Defence Expo in Betul-Naqueri village, about 50 kms from Panaji.

With the new DPP, it will be ensured that there is greater transparency and faster clearances, he said.

The DPP has been loaded online on the Defence Ministry’s website and would be made available in hard copy format after 15 days. Parrikar said certain concerns of foreign companies which were expressed in the past, would be addressed through this policy in next three to four months.

The new policy has introduced an Indian Designed, Developed and Manufactured (IDDM) category which will benefit the local units, he said.

“We have increased the Foreign Direct Investment (in Defence sector) to 49 percent which will be through automatic route,” the minister pointed out. Parrikar said defence export clearances are to be granted online.

He said the policy will also include ‘Start-up India’ initiative. Technology is changing every year and India has the capability to use it in defence production, he observed.

“We expect that new policy will make the world take advantage of technological revolution across India,” he said.

Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, AYUSH Minister Shripad Naik, Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh and Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar were present at the function.

The new DPP would help India reduce its dependency on foreign countries and source defence equipment within the country, Singh said. “….all defence procurement, the capital side of it, is from abroad. In the years to come one hopes we will be able to source it within India, either as a partnership with foreign companies or through our own domestic industrial base which so far has been kept away from the defence spectrum,” he said.

Meanwhile, the ninth edition of DefExpo India, a biennial exhibition of land, naval and internal homeland security systems, being organised by the Defence Ministry, kicked-off in Goa. More than 1,000 companies from 47 countries are participating in the DefExpo.

Parrikar had earlier said the new blacklisting policy will also be issued separately next month and made it clear that there will be “no relaxation” for those who have already been blacklisted and “bribe givers” will be punished.

However, the existing blacklisted firms will be allowed to appeal before a vigilance committee of the Defence Ministry for delisting under the new policy.

The new category IDDM will be the first category of preference under new DPP, which will guide how India buys its arms and equipment for its armed forces.

The new DPP also allows the Defence Acquisition Council to take the “fast-track” route to acquire weapons.

“There is an impression that fast track can only be done in the event of a war but this is not the case,” Parrikar had said.

Noting that all earlier DPP was procedure driven, Parrikar had said the new document has a preamble, that will be a fall back option in case of any problem, like single vendor situation among others.

In a bid to cut down on the time taken for acquisition process, the new DPP mandates that all AONs (Acceptance of Necessity) of a particular platform will be valid only for six months as against the 12 months deadline now.

Also, no AON will be notified until it is accompanied by a finalised RFP (Request for Proposal or tender). This means that the time taken for an RFP is cut down drastically.

PTI

Manohar Parrikar requests MEA to give alleged ‘RAW spy’ all possible support

Quepem: The External Affairs Ministry has been asked to extend all possible help to former Navy official Kulbhushan Jadhav, arrested by Pakistan claiming he was a RAW operative, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Monday.

“We do agree, to the extent I know, that he is an Indian citizen and we have asked for consular access,” Parrikar said, adding that he is concerned about Jadhav since he is a veteran.

Giving details, the minister said he had “indicated” to the MEA that Jadhav is an ex-officer and should be given all assistance and support required.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. IBNLiveDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar. IBNLive

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. IBNLive

Praising External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Parrikar said the MEA was doing its best.

He said that Swaraj is very active and one can even reach her at night on Twitter and get a reply with action taken reports usually given by (next) morning.

“Sushmaji has been working vigorously to help Indians abroad who are in problem. In this case, since the other country has made allegations, it may take a longer time,” he said.

Parrikar refused to comment anything more on Jadhav saying “other than paying him One Rank One Pension I cannot talk about anything on an ex officer”.

Jadhav, a 1991 commissioned Naval officer, was arrested earlier this month by Pakistan authorities on the charges that he was dealing with Balochistan freedom fighters.

The allegation was that the officer, who retired in 2013, was an active RAW agent, a charge denied by India.

Government sources have said that Jadhav was a small businessman.

It is said that he often carried cargo to and from Iranian ports bordering Pakistan and has nothing to do with India’s external intelligence agency.

Sources have said that there is no proof that the retired navy officer, who owns a cargo business in Iran, was arrested in Balochistan as claimed by Pakistan.

Jadhav could have been arrested after he strayed into Pakistani waters and was being wrongly charged, they said.

It is a matter of investigation whether he had accidentally strayed into Pakistani waters or was lured into Pakistan, sources have said.

PTI

Defence Ministry asks MEA to provide ‘all assistance’ to former navy officer arrested in Balochistan

Panaji: The defence ministry has asked the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to provide all assistance to a former navy officer arrested in Balochistan, Pakistan, on charges of alleged spying.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said here on Monday that the defence ministry has asked that the former naval officer, identified as Kulbushan Yadav, be given “all assistance required”.

File image. PTIFile image. PTI

File image. PTI

Asked about the arrest, Parrikar said: “He is an ex-navy officer, other than paying him OROP (One Rank One Pension) pension, I cannot do anything.”

“We have indicated to the MEA that the ex-officer must be given all assistance required,” the defence minister said.

“Sushma-ji (External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj) has been working vigorously to help Indians abroad who are in problem. In this case, since the other country has made allegations, it may take a longer time,” he said.

Yadav was arrested in Pakistan last week on charges of spying. The Indian government has denied any links with him.

New defence procurement policy will embody Make in India, focus on speed and transparency: Parrikar

Panaji: Defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday announced India’s new defence procurement policy, which he said embodies transparency, speed and the ‘Make in India’ concept.

File image. PTIFile image. PTI

File image. PTI

Speaking at the inaugural function of the Defence Expo 2016 in South Goa, Parrikar said that a new top priority category had been introduced in the policy in order to encourage design, development and manufacturing of defence equipment in India.

“We have ensured that there is more transparency, but also that procurement takes place faster, which you will realise through defence procurement procedure (DPP),” Parrikar said, adding that the policy document has been uploaded on the ministry website.

“The final version of the policy document will be uploaded in 15 days after the incorporation of small annexures and corrections,” he said. “This DPP, I believe, can actually push the agenda of ‘Make in India’ and India’s target of achieving major successes in creating a defence industry network for its own need as well as exports,” Parrikar said.

“Technology is changing almost every year and India is one country which has a huge pool of people in engineering and technology who can convert many defence requirements into actual production,” the minister said.

Parrikar said that a new top priority concept called Indian-designed developed and manufactured (IDDM) had been included in the DPP, which he said would help indigenise the industry. “The IDDM category would encourage local industry,” Parrikar said.

There are 1,035 companies participating in the four-day Defence Expo 2016, which has been billed as India’s biggest ever land, naval and homeland security exhibition.

IANS

Make in India is in its place, but our military preparedness is paramount: Parrikar

Roorkee: The ‘Make in India’ vision is a priority for defence procurement but “operational readiness” is the military’s primary task as “we don’t want people to look at us with big eyes”, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has said.

“We need adequate equipment and that cannot change. Make in India is in its place, our military preparedness is paramount,” he said speaking at a panel discussion on Make in India initiative in the defence sector on the opening day of the three-day technical festival, Cognizance 2016, of IIT Roorkee on Friday.

“I would like to make it clear…Make in India is our priority for defence procurement…but the first priority cannot be forgotten, the primary task of our military, which is operational readiness…in view of our neighbours…so that no one can look at us with big eyes,” he said.

There have been calls for stepping up the country’s defence preparedness after the terror attack on the Pathankot Air base and in Gurdaspur.

Manohar Parrikar. IBNLiveManohar Parrikar. IBNLive

Manohar Parrikar. IBNLive

Opposition Congress had in Parliament recently criticised the government for its handling of the Pathankot incident in which seven security personnel were killed.

An IIT alumnus, Parrikar says a public life was something he never anticipated and he was pushed into the river of politics from behind but managed to “swim successfully”.

“When I came here, I was given this two-page prepared speech but then I thought since we are talking of ‘Make in India’, so I would have my own speech. So, guess I’ll go my way, the IIT way, and talk directly the students,” he said, to a loud cheer, as he spoke extempore.

“It’s almost like coming back to IIT-Bombay… I spent my B.Tech days at IIT and later also took up a PG course but never finished the M.Tech… But more than degree and I valued knowledge. I spent 6.5 years at IIT, I didn’t spend 6.5 years for undergraduation… but I have a B.Tech degree, as my affidavit says, and not M.Tech… Someone, may file a case (against me),” he said, leaving the crowd in raptures.

The minister was apparently making a reference to the row related to Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani’s educational qualifications.

On being a reluctant politician, he said, “Many IITians went to the US, the UK but I stuck here. Let me tell you I never anticipated joining politics. I was the one sitting by the side of the river and someone pushed me from behind into it.

“But, I swam successfully, in that river and became chief minister of Goa and then the defence minister,” he said, adding, “I was the general secretary of the mess and quite popular and thus got elected for three years. At least that proves that doing the mess management I learned to steer the state finances properly.”

Moving on to examinations, he said the current generation is “luckier” as far as engineering examinations are concerned.

“Let me tell you, open book examination is the most difficult one. As you have to know where the answer lies, going through the book twice, thrice” as he asked students to inculcate, out-of-box thinking and contribute to the growth story of India.

Before ending his speech, he recounted a humour-laden story of a French King and his court astrologer to reinforce his point about Make in India.

PTI

Parrikar on Rafale deal: I am a tough negotiator; let me save money for nation

Showing no signs of relenting, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday said he is a “tough negotiator” and wants the “best price” for Rafale fighter jets from France.

However, the minister said the budget for next fiscal takes into account the Rafale deal for which “adequate money” has been kept aside.

Manohar Parrika. PTIManohar Parrika. PTI

Manohar Parrikar. PTI

“I am a tough negotiator. Let me save money for the nation,” Parrikar told reporters here when asked why the deal has not been signed yet.

Stating that he was aware that the IAF needs the aircraft, the minister added “I think a good buyer does not put his weakness in front. He always keeps his cards close to his chest. Please don’t ask me to disclose my cards in national interest.”

Asked if he was looking at any alternative to equip the IAF in case the Rafale deal does not go through, he said “many times it is better to cross the bridge when it comes”.

The defence budget for the next fiscal takes into account the payments that will have to be made when the Rafale deal is signed, said Parrikar who had last month made it clear that the price of the aircraft was the only sticking point left in the agreement.

At least 15% of the total payment will have to be made immediately, if and when the deal is signed.

During French President Francois Hollande’s visit here in January, India and France had inked an MoU for the purchase of 36 French Rafale aircraft but persisting differences over the pricing of the fighter jet came in the way of the multi-billion dollar deal being wrapped up.

The deal is estimated to cost about Rs 59,000 crore.

PTI

Defence buy: Govt recalibrates Foreign Military Sales account in US

New Delhi: The government has “recalibrated” the management of an account, which was used to pay money to the US under Foreign Military Sales route, after a review showed that nearly $2.3 billion had piled up without earning any interest, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Friday.

The minister also said that the Defence Budget for the next fiscal, “nearly Rs 2.59 lakh crore” sans the pension allocation, was adequate and as per the ministry’s requirement.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. AFPDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar. AFP

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. AFP

India and the US have now fine tuned the FMS procedure whereby rather than raising bills case-wise every quarter, all the funds against various cases have been pooled together in a corpus.

The corpus had been created in September last year, defence sources said.

A statement released by the ministry said that as and when funds are required to be paid per case, fullfilment of contractual liabilities, the said amount is being withdrawn from the corpus.

“Consequent to this creation of the corpus in consultation with the US government, no payments have been made in the last two quarters of the financial year 2015-16, against cases which necessitated payments, against the said contracts.

“Instead, payment is being effected from the corpus of $2.3 billion. It is hoped that no payments shall be required to be made till the amount of $2.3 billion is depleted and there is a necessity for us to replenish certain amount as required,” the ministry said.

It said that this has happened through “scrupulous and holistic financial management”.

Consequently, while the US government will continue to meet their contractual obligations, there will be no additional burden on the Indian government on this account.

It enables utilisation of scarce funds on other projects and hedges the country against adverse exchange rates, the ministry said.

Earlier in the day, Parrikar, who had put the corpus figure at about $3 billion, countered reports that the ministry has failed to utilise about Rs 11,000 crore from the capital budget of 2015-16. He said the country has actually saved money.

He said that even though the provision of capital acquisition in the budget was around Rs 77,000 crore, the actual anticipated spending will be around Rs 66,000 crore.

“We have taken measures by which Rs 11,000 crore saving appears there,” Parrikar said, briefing reporters about the defence budget for the next fiscal.

PTI

Securing our seas: Pranab Mukherjee reviews India’s naval might at International Fleet Review 2016

On board INS Sunayna: India’s naval might was on full display off the Visakhapatnam coast on Saturday as President Pranab Mukherjee reviewed the naval fleet.

A fleet review is a ceremonial and stately inspection of naval warships by the supreme commander of the armed forces, the President of India.

President Pranab Mukherjee, onboard the presidential yacht INS Sumitra, inspected the fleet of 71 Indian naval ships.

He tweeted:

Also on the yacht were Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and the three service chiefs.

Modi tweeted:

The fleet review has 71 of the Indian Navy’s ships lined up, including both aircraft carriers, INS Vikramaditya and INS Virat.

However, INS Virat will be retiring soon.

Around 50 navies and 24 foreign ships are participating in the International Fleet Review, the second to be held by India and largest military exercise hosted by the country so far.

The last IFR was held in Mumbai in 2001 which was presided by the late APJ Abdul Kalam. Twenty-nine countries had participated in the event.

IANS

Pathankot attack: Questions that were never asked about the terror strike

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