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Lt Gen Rawat takes over as Army chief, Air Marshal Dhanoa takes charge as IAF chief

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lt Gen Bipin Rawat on Saturday took over as the 27th chief of the 1.3 million strong Indian Army succeeding Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, who retired after 42 years of service.Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa also took charge as the 25th Air Force Chief replacing Anup Raha.Gen Rawat superseded two senior most Lt Generals, Praveen Bakshi and P M Hariz.Lt Gen Bakshi, who heads the Kolkata-headquartered Eastern Command, announced “full support” to the new chief and told theatre officers through video conferencing he will continue to lead with “full professional sincerity as hither-to-fore”.”I convey my best wishes and full support of Eastern Command to Gen Bipin Rawat on having taken over as the Chief of Army Staff,” he said.Earlier, there was speculation that Lt Gen Bakshi may resign or take premature retirement. He had also met Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar recently.He requested that speculation and trolling in media and social media should stop and everyone should focus on contributing their best to the betterment of the army and the nation.The Eastern Commander called the new Army chief to congratulate him on taking over the reins of the army.Speculation is rife that Lt Gen Bakshi may be given the new post of Chief of Defence Staff pertaining which Parrikar will meet Prime Minster Narendra Modi next month.Sources, however, have indicated that no such development will take place.Gen Suhag, who superannuated today, said army is prepared to meet any challenge as he thanked the government for “providing a free hand” and implementing the One Rank One Pension scheme.He said that infiltration bids had increased during the year and the number of terrorists killed was nearly double the previous year.The General said the army focused on operational preparedness during his tenure.Suhag said that when he had taken over he had asserted the response of the army to any action against our interest would be immediate, adequate and intense. “Indian Army has done that in the last two-and-a-half years,” he said.Later at noon, he handed over the charge to Rawat, who was commissioned in the Fifth Battalion of the Eleven Gorkha Rifles in December 1978 from IMA, Dehradun. He was awarded the ‘Sword of Honour’ at the academy.Earlier in the day, Gen Suhag and Air Chief Marshal Raha paid tributes at Amar Jawan Jyoti and inspected the guard of honour.The new IAF chief, Air Marshal Dhanoa, had developed the country’s aerial targeting philosophy against potential adversaries and transformed the concept of air operations of the air force into contemporary war fighting practices.He has mainly flown Kiran and MiG-21 aircraft though he has the experience of flying the entire spectrum of fighter aircraft from Jaguar to state-of-the-art MiG-29 and Su-30 MKI.The Air Marshal has many feathers in his hat. As the commanding officer of a frontline ground attack fighter squadron, he led the IAF punch during the “Limited War” against Pakistan to drive the enemy out of their “dug in” defences in the icy heights of Kargil region.During the conflict, under his leadership and supervision, the squadron devised unique and innovative methods of bombing at night at altitudes never before attempted in the history of air warfare, the IAF said.Prior to the attack, the squadron had been adjudged as the best fighter squadron of western Air Command for its high degree of professionalism and peace-time training. After the conflict, it emerged as the most decorated IAF unit of Kargil War.He also holds the highest flying instructional category in the IAF and was handpicked to establish the “IAF Training Team” abroad.Gen Rawat has vast experience in high altitude warfare and counter-insurgency operations.He commanded an infantry battalion, along the Line of Actual Control in the Eastern Sector, a Rashtriya Rifles Sector and an Infantry Division in the Kashmir Valley, a Corps in the Eastern theatre and the Southern Command.He has tenanted instructional appointments at Indian Military Academy and at Army War College, Mhow.Gen Rawat has held important staff appointments at Directorate General of Military Operations and Military Secretary’s Branch at Army HQ.He has also been Major General General Staff (MGGS) at HQ Eastern Command.The General commanded a Multinational Brigade in a Chapter VII mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC). While serving with the United Nations, he was twice awarded the Force Commander’s Commendation.An alumni of Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, he has been awarded various medals of high honour for gallantry and distinguished service in a span of over 38 years in uniform.He also attended the Command and General Staff College (CGSC) course at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, USA.Academically inclined, Rawat has authored numerous articles on national security and leadership, which have been published in various journals and publications.He was awarded M.Phil in Defence Studies from Madras University. He has a Diploma in Management and another Diploma in Computer Studies.Gen Rawat has also completed his research on military media strategic studies and was awarded Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D) from Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut in 2011.

Goans celebrate Christmas with traditional fervour

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Goans celebrate Christmas with traditional fervourWith the peel of the midnight bells, churches across Goa celebrated the birth of Lord Jesus heralding the Christmas season which will culminate with New Year festivities.Lakhs of faithfuls attended the midnight masses which were held across the state celebrating birth of Jesus Christ, followed by traditional dances at various places.Goa has 27% of its population following Roman Catholic faith. Cribs were unveiled at many places after midnight masses, depicting the birth of Jesus Christ in the stable.Archbishop of Goa and Daman Fr Filipe Neri Ferrao’s Christmas eve message was broadcast across the state through cable network on television in which he emphasised for the nations to take unified action against environmental degradation and irresponsible development.”This Christmas let us make room for God to change us and through us change the world around us. Cutting across man-made barriers, let us commit ourselves to build a new society wherein everyone would be welcomed, accepted and loved,” the Archbishop said in the traditional message.The Archbishop’s Palace, located at Altinho in Panaji city, would be hosting a civic reception on December 28 which is expected to be attended by several prominent personalities, including Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Governor Mridula Sinha and Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, a spokesman for the church said today.While locals are busy celebrating Christmas, more tourists are expected to arrive in the state to usher in the New Year. “We expect good response for the New Year season this year. The visitors have already started arriving. This is the time when everyone wants to be in Goa and they are right in deciding Goa as their New Year celebration destination,” state Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar.He ruled out any impact of demonetization on the tourist inflow.”There was slight impact initially, but now things are normal,” he said.

Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi meets Manohar Parrikar, officials term it ‘courtesy call’

New Delhi: Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, who was superseded along with another senior officer in selection of the new army chief, met Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday, amid speculation that he may seek premature retirement or will be given a new role by the government.

Defence Ministry officials termed the meeting as a “courtesy call”.

They said the meeting was sought by Lt Gen Bakshi, contrary to initial claims by army sources that Parrikar had sought the meeting. Lt Gen Bakshi also met with Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag after meeting Parrikar.

Lt General Praveen Bakshi. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Lt General Praveen Bakshi. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Dalbir Singh is set to visit the Eastern Command in Kolkata shortly as part of his farewell tour. The army chief will hang his boots on 31 December.

A section of military experts feel that Lt Gen Bakshi may seek premature retirement. However, the process may take a month or two, sources said, adding that during this period he may go on leave.

Lt Gen Bakshi was initially the front runner for the post of the army chief. However, keeping aside the trend of seniority being the lone criteria, the government appointed Vice Chief of Army Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, a batch junior to Lt Gen Bakshi, as the new chief.

Lt Gen Rawat, an infantry soldier, was found best suited among three officers to deal with challenges like cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and the situation with Pakistan, both areas which the government felt will be under focus for the next two-three years.

Another section of military experts claimed that Lt Bakshi may become the new Chief of Defence Staff, a post that has been hanging fire for the last many years.

While the creation of such a post is in “active consideration” of the government, it is unlikely that it will happen soon, they claimed.

The Centre had on 17 December appointed Lt Gen Rawat as the new army chief superseding his two senior officers — Lt Gen Bakshi and Southern Command Chief Lt Gen PM Hariz.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 20:11 IST

Political parties flay Gen Rawat’s appointment

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even before the row over appointing Gujarat cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as interim director of the CBI could die down, the Modi government has countered a fresh controversy on its decision to appoint Lt General Bipin Rawat as the new Army chief by superseding Lt General Praveen Bakshi and Lt Genenral PM Harizwas.The Congress and the Left have questioned the Government on its motive behind the appointment of Lt Gen Rawat.Citing the dynamics and hierarchy embedded in every institution, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said, “With all due respect to Gen Rawat’s professionalism and no personal animus towards anybody, there is a legitimate question as to why that supersession has taken place…Did the government have anything against them? Was their professionalism in question? What was the reason and I guess with the army being a public institution, the country deserves those answers.”When reminded of the previous instance of supersession in 1983 by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who gave the reins of the Army in the hands of Gen AS Vaidya, superseding Lt Gen S K Sinha, Tiwari called it “complete nonsense”. “ Every situation has its own context and, therefore nothing can be extrapolated out of context in order to justify a supersession. So, therefore the government needs to answer this legitimate question as to why these senior army commanders were superseded,” he said.CPI leader D Raja and former Army Chief General Shankar Roy Chowdhury have also questioned the appointment.DIFFERENT NOTEFormer Army Chief Gen Shankar Roy Chowdhury said he differs with Defence Minister Parrikar’s assumption that operational experience in one type of terrain was found relevant in Gen Rawat’s case. The BJP, however, lashed out at the Opposition reaction.

Will soon name next IA and IAF chiefs: Manohar Parrikar

New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Friday that he will soon name the next Indian Army and Indian Air Force chiefs.

He was speaking after paying tributes at the Amar Jawan Jyoti in New Delhi on Vijay Diwas or Victory Day that is observed on 16 December to mark the military triumph over Pakistan in 1971 which led to the creation of Bangladesh.

The Defence Minister, however, did not give a timeline for naming the new chiefs. Asked whether the line of succession might be broken in the appointment of the next army chief, Parrikar said cryptically: “Line of succession is decided by the people.”

The Indian Army chief, General Dalbir Singh, and the Indian Air Force Chief, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, are both set to retire on 31 December.

File photo of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

File photo of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

A file with nominations for the new chiefs is with the Prime Minister’s Office, and a formal announcement is expected after parliament’s winter session concludes on Friday, sources said.

The sources also added that the Eastern Army Commander, Lt. Gen. Praveen Bakshi; the Southern Army Commander, Lt. Gen. P.M. Hariz and the army vice chief, Lt Gen Bipin Rawat are in the fray to succeed Gen. Dalbir Singh.

Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, a Kargil war veteran, and the IAF vice chief is in the fray for the top job.

Talking about the significance of 16 December, Parrikar said it was a day when India achieved a “decisive victory”.

“I don’t have to stress on the importance of this great day. This is the day when we achieved a decisive victory and created a new country,” he said.

On the next canisterisated test for Agni V missile, the minister said he would not like to comment much on it and said: “Testing goes on, I will not comment much. We have achieved 100 percent success in all the tests this year.”

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 11:27 IST

Have cleared names for the next Indian Army chief and IAF chief, says Manohar Parrikar

New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Friday that he will soon name the next Indian Army and Indian Air Force chiefs.

He was speaking after paying tributes at the Amar Jawan Jyoti in New Delhi on Vijay Diwas or Victory Day that is observed on 16 December to mark the military triumph over Pakistan in 1971 which led to the creation of Bangladesh.

The Defence Minister, however, did not give a timeline for naming the new chiefs. Asked whether the line of succession might be broken in the appointment of the next army chief, Parrikar said cryptically: “Line of succession is decided by the people.”

The Indian Army chief, General Dalbir Singh Suhaag, and the Indian Air Force Chief, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, are both set to retire on 31 December.

File photo of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

File photo of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

A file with nominations for the new chiefs is with the Prime Minister’s Office, and a formal announcement is expected after parliament’s winter session concludes on Friday, sources said.

The sources also added that the Eastern Army Commander, Lt General Praveen Bakshi; the Southern Army Commander, Lt. General PM Hariz and the army vice chief, Lt Gen Bipin Rawat are in the fray to succeed General Singh .

Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, a Kargil war veteran, and the IAF vice chief is in the fray for the top job.

Talking about the significance of 16 December, Parrikar said it was a day when India achieved a “decisive victory”.

“I don’t have to stress on the importance of this great day. This is the day when we achieved a decisive victory and created a new country,” he said.

On the next canisterisated test for Agni V missile, the minister said he would not like to comment much on it and said: “Testing goes on, I will not comment much. We have achieved 100 percent success in all the tests this year.”

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 11:27 IST

Announcement of next army chief will be very soon, says Manohar Parrikar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday said the announcement of the next army chief would be very soon. Parrikar along with three service chiefs paid tributes to the bravehearts who laid down their lives during 1971 India-Pakistan war on the occasion of Vijay Diwas. “I don’t have to stress the importance of the day. It’s a day when we achieved a decisive victory and created a new country,” Parrikar said.On this day in 1971, the chief of the Pakistani forces General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, along with 93,000 troops had surrendered unconditionally to the allied forces consisting of Indian Army and Mukti Bahini, led by General Jagjit Singh Aurora in Dhaka after their defeat in the war. The end of the war also resulted in subsequent secession of East Pakistan into Bangladesh.Special programmes are also being organised at the headquarters of the Eastern Command at the Fort William in Kolkata to celebrate the day.Led by Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, a 72-member delegation of war veterans and Mukti Jodahas from the neighbouring country will take part in Vijay Diwas celebrations.

Manohar Parrikar hits out at his predecessors, says ‘still clearing the earlier mess’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hitting out at his predecessors, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Wednesday he is still “still clearing the earlier mess” and has initiated a series of steps in areas like defence procurement, which will start yielding results from next year. The Defence Procurement Manual (DPM) would soon be changed to address the concerns raised by private players, but added that even they should rope in Medium and Small scale industries while carrying out their work, he said.Speaking about the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, Parrikar said before the aircraft was finally introduced in the Indian Air Force, everyone was working in “silos” and he had to hold a series of meetings to break that. He said, now the DRDO has been mandated to rope in private sector industry for development.Parrikar also questioned about the acquisition of aircraft done in the past without technology transfers and alleged there were “many errors, mistakes and casualness”. He said, efforts taken to resolve these issues will start showing up by next year. “Slowly these issues are getting sorted out. Next year 2017, exercise has been carried out, will start yielding results,” he said.Parrikar was speaking at an ASSOCHAM seminar on ‘Defence Production: Self Reliance and Beyond’. The Defence Minister said although the ‘Make in India’ is an important aspect, FDI in defence does not come overnight. He said, a number of steps have been taken by the government in the defence sector, like removing a number of items from the exports list from the aviation sector. “For the defence license, all those which are manufactured under this (aviation) category, which were actually defence exports are now not categorised as defence exports,” Parrikar said.He stated that India had to prepare for eight months before going into war in 1971, because the country probably did not have capability to produce many of the required consumables. Parrikar said defence is a sector where “one prepares for an event, which no one want to happen.”

VVIP Chopper scam: Former IAF Chief SP Tyagi to be produced in court tomorrow, says CBI

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi, his cousin and an advocate, who were arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday in connection with an ongoing investigation to a case related to the alleged irregularities in the procurement of VVIPs helicopters, will be produced before a court on Saturday.”The CBI has today arrested the then chief of the Air Staff, his cousin, who is a private person, and an advocate in an ongoing investigation to a case related to the alleged irregularities in the procurement of VVIPs helicopters,” said CBI chief information officer Devpreet Singh. “The arrested accused will be produced tomorrow before the competent court in Delhi. Further investigation is continuing,” she added.Besides former IAF chief, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi, alias, Julie Tyagi, and a Delhi-based lawyer Gautam Khaitan were arrested in connection with irregularities in the AgustaWestland.
ALSO READ VVIP Chopper scam: CBI arrests former IAF Chief SP Tyagi, 2 othersThe trio was arrested on the charges of accepting illegal gratification for exercising influence through corrupt and illegal means during the deal.The role of the UPA government and former IAF chief Tyagi in the scam is reportedly validated by an Italian court in the purchase of 12 AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters for IAF for Rs 3,600-crores for VVIPs, including the President and the Prime Minister.On April 8, the Milan Court of Appeals ruled that the Rs 3,565 crore AW contract involved payoffs to Indian officials. Overturning a lower court judgement that said corruption could not be proved, the court of appeals foundGiuseppe Orsi, the powerful former chief of Finmeccanica, and Bruno Spagnolini, who headed chopper division AW, guilty of international corruption and money laundering.As per reports, prosecutors in the court produced a note purportedly written by Christian Michel to Peter Hullet, India head of the Anglo-Italian company, in 2008 revealing that he had advised the people handling the VVIP helicopter deal on the company?s behalf to target people close to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, including the prime minister and some of her closest advisers, to win the contract.Speaking in the Rajya Sabha on May 6, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the UPA regime left no stone unturned to award the VVIP chopper deal to AgustaWestland.Parrikar said the previous regime’s action against the deal was forced by circumstances and the inquiry into it was not initiated until it was unavoidable.The Defence Minister said Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan, who are being repeatedly questioned by the CBI in the case, are small people and asked the government to find the big names who received the kickbacks in the deal. Parrikar further said that procurement procedure was not followed in the deal, adding there were also discrepancies in the base price.The Defence Minister further said UPA regime knew about the scam in February 2012, but still three helicopters were delivered in December. He added that the CBI registered an FIR in the matter in March 2013, but the copy of FIR was not forwarded to the Enforcement Directorate till December.Parrikar told the Upper House that the Enforcement Directorate took notice of the case only in July 2014 after the BJ-led NDA came into power.

Mamata vs Army: ‘Deeply hurt’ Parrikar writes to Bengal CM, Banerjee hits back

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The political row over the recent Army drill at toll plazas in West Bengal flared up again today with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar dashing off a stinging letter to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, saying her allegations can “adversely” impact the morale of the force and the TMC chief hitting back over his “wild assertion”.In the two-page letter, Parrikar told her that he was “deeply pained” over the allegations regarding the deployment of the army personnel and that the same was not expected from a person of her standing and experience in public life. Parrikar said that while political parties and politicians may have the luxury of making “wild and unsubstantiated allegations against each other”, one needs to be extremely careful while referring to the armed forces.”Your allegations in this regard run the risk of adversely impacting the morale of the country’s armed forces and the same were not expected from a person of your standing and experience in public life,” the Minister said.Banerjee, who is a strident opponent of the Centre’s demonetization move, had accused it of deploying the army at toll plazas in West Bengal without informing the state government and described it as “unprecedented” and “a very serious situation worse than Emergency”. The Trinamool Congress stayed put in her office in Kolkata overnight in protest against the deployment and had asked whether it was an “army coup”.Terming it as “avoidable controversy” over the exercise carried out by the Eastern Command in West Bengal and other states under the jurisdiction to collect information about the movement of heavy vehicles at toll gates, Parrikar, in his letter dated December 8, said it is carried out by all formations of the army all across the country for many years. He said the exercises are held as per the dates convenient to the army in consultation with agencies of the state government.”I have been deeply pained by your allegations as reported in the media. If only you had enquired with the agencies concerned of the state government, you would have come to know of the extensive correspondence between the Army and the state agencies including the joint inspection of sites carried out by them,” Parrikar said. Hitting back, Banerjee said, “I take strong exception to your wild assertion that my articulation of the rights of the state government vis-a-vis Army deployment without clearance has impacted the morale of the armed forces.”Your general observations about the political parties and politicians to have the luxury of making wild and unsubstantiated allegations may be apt for your party, but we do not belong to that group,” she said in a two-page reply. The chief minister also maintained that the Ministry of Defence has not taken prior permission of the state government for large deployment of Army personnel in civilian areas.Parrikar said the army authorities were forced to put the record straight in the matter by presenting evidence of their communication with the state agencies concerned including rescheduling of the data collection operations on their response. TMC MP Derek O’ Brien charged the Centre with playing politics on the issue. “Look who is playing politics. The letter has not even reached the chief minister of Bengal and it has already been leaked in the media in Delhi.”

Manohar Parrikar’s letter to Mamata rubbish: TMC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Responding to a letter written by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee regarding the his expression of pain about painting the army in poor light recently, Trinamool Congress leader Sukhendu Sekhar Roy urged the Centre not to politicise the issue.”We have all the respect for the Indian Army as they are safeguarding the territory and integrity of our country. It is better on the part of government not to politicise the army in political interest. “We have also submitted the details as to how, without the concurrence of the state government, the army was deployed on December 1. What the defence minister has stated is rubbish,” he said.Member of Parliament Derek O’ Brien charged the Centre with playing politics on the issue.”Look who is playing politics. The letter has not even reached the chief minister of Bengal and it has already been leaked in the media in Delhi.”Promising a befitting reply from his party, O’ Brien said, “When the letter does reach Bengal, we will give him a befitting reply. Mamata Di will give a strong reply to the defence minister, because, we have a strong case.”Parrikar, in a letter written to Mamata Banerjee expressed his pain over dragging the army into politics and doubting its intentions.Parrikar said had Mamata enquired about it with the state agencies, she would have come to know about the communication that took place between the army and the concerned authorities regarding the exercise carried out by them. “I have been deeply pained by your allegations as reported in the media. If only you had enquired with the concerned agencies of the state government, you would have come to know of the extensive correspondence between the army and the state agencies, including the joint inspection of the sites carried out by them,” Parrikar said.Hinting at the impact it would have on the morale of the armed forces, Parrikar said that such a thing was not expected from a person of her standing and experience in public life.He further said that political parties may take digs at each other, but one needs to be careful while referring to armed forces.On December 1, when the army was deployed at two toll plazas in West Bengal for carrying out a routine exercise, Mamata alleged that the deployment was made without any prior information to the state government.The army, however, in a series of letters, clarified that it was only a routine exercise and that it was in continuous communication with the Kolkata Police.

Manohar Parrikar writes to Mamata Banerjee, says her coup allegations ‘adversely impacting’ armed forces’ morale

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has written a letter to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, expressing pain over dragging of the army into controversy. In his letter, Parrikar said political parties and the politicians may have the luxury of making wild and unsubstantiated allegation against each other but one needs to be extremely careful while referring to the armed forces.”Your allegation, in this regard run the risk of adversely impacting the morale of the country’s armed forces and the same were not expected from a person of your standing and experience in public life,” he said.He further asserted that the army authorities were forces to put the record straight in the matter by presenting evidence of their communication with the concerned state agencies including rescheduling of the date collection, operation on their request.Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s letter to CM Mamata Banerjee:”I have been deeply pained by her allegation as reported in the media, if only you had enquired with the concerned agencies of the state government, you would have come to know of the extensive correspondence between the army and the state agencies including the joint inspection of sites carried out by them,” he added.He further said that such exercise is being carried out by all formation of the army throughout the country for many years as par the dates convenient to them in consultation with concerned agencies of the state governments. Banerjee had earlier demanded “withdrawal of the army” from the state, alleging it has been done by keeping her government “in the dark”.Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien said, “Letter has not reached the CM and it’s already leaked to media. We will give a befitting reply when it comes.”On December 2, presence of army personnel at toll plazas in West Bengal triggered a row with Banerjee remaining at the state secretariat overnight in protest, asking was it an “army coup”, drawing a stinging condemnation from the Centre which said the remark showed her “political frustration”.Accusing the central government of “deploying the army” along a highway toll plaza at the second Hooghly Bridge, about 500 metres from the secretariat ‘Nabanna’ in neighbouring Howrah district, Banerjee had said she would not leave the secretariat till the army was withdrawn from there. With inputs from ANI.

Carter meets Parrikar, US to accord ‘Major Defence Partner’ status to India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and outgoing US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter on Thursday finalised the “major defence partner” status to India which will fast-track cooperation and sharing of high-end American defence technology.Both sides also vowed to expand the bilateral defence cooperation as Carter met Parrikar here for the record breaking seventh time. “Today we finalised India’s designation as a ‘Major Defence Partner’ of the US. The designation as a Major Defence Partner is a status unique to India and institutionalises the progress made to facilitate defence trade and technology sharing with India to a level at par with that of the US’s closest allies and partners, and ensures enduring cooperation in the future,” a joint statement after the meeting said. Carter also called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Officials explained that details regarding US licensing rules among other have been finalised. The statement added that both sides exchanged views on regional security issues including threat posed by terrorism.”They agreed to continue further strengthening the bilateral counter terrorism cooperation and underlined the need to ensure that terror groups receive no patronage from any State,” it said.Citing common values and shared desire for peace and prosperity in Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean Region, the two leaders reflected on the convergence of interests that have driven the strategic and technological “handshakes” between both nations and led to historic progress in bilateral ties, the statement added.It said that bilateral defence ties have in the recent years moved along a “remarkable upward trajectory”. “Thank you my friend,” Carter told Parrikar as both met at the South Block here. Carter said that this is the seventh meeting that he was having with Parrikar. “He is the Defence Minister with whom I have met for the maximum number of times,” he said emphasising the importance that US puts on its ties with India.During the meeting, which was more of a thanksgiving one, Carter said, “Today our defence relationship takes a major step as we designate India as a major defence partner. It now needs to be formally passed by the two chambers of the Congress — the House of Representatives and Senate — before US President Barack Obama can sign it into law. Marked progress on agreements, including the signing of a Defence Framework Agreement in 2015, have laid a blueprint for collaboration between our defence establishments and enabled deeper cooperation, the statement said.Parrikar and Carter applauded the deepened scope of India-US military-to-military ties, which includes a dramatic increase in defence trade. With regard to technology, both sides welcomed the tremendous progress achieved under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) and committed to explore new proposals and other innovative opportunities for co-production and co-development. The emergence of DTTI as an integral and enduring component of India-US security cooperation is a sign that the relationship has matured to a level of strategic importance, the statement said.DTTI will strengthen India’s ‘Make in India’ initiative and both sides committed to convening all new DTTI working groups prior to the next DTTI Group meeting anticipated for February, 2017. Parrikar and Carter agreed that the strong partnership between our countries is lasting and will thrive and grow for decades to come. Meanwhile, Parrikar said he appreciated Carter’s strong commitment to defence partnership.”It is not an exaggeration that our defence relations are a major driver in our bilateral relations,” he said adding Carter’s conceptualisation of DTTI shows his interest in bilateral defence cooperation. Parrikar said he was happy to see conclusion of discussion on major defence partnership. “During our meeting over the last few years, we have agreed on practical exchanges such as LMEOA,” the Defence Minister said.He added, “I am confident that the defence cooperation will expand on the foundation you have built”. Carter replied saying that both countries have more to do in the years ahead. “I am proud of what we have achieved my friend,” he said. US President-elect Donald Trump has nominated James Mattis, a retired 4-star Marine Corps general, for the post of the US Defence Secretary

Demonetization has brought people’s power into prominence: PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Asserting that the people have supported demonetization, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said his government has brought ‘Janshakti’ (people’s power) into prominence with the decision and flayed the opposition, saying it got “exposed” in Rajya Sabha by not agreeing to a debate despite his presence there twice.Hitting out at opposition parties, he told BJP MPs at a parliamentary party meeting that Parliament in the past had debated decisions of previous governments that had caused social tensions and conflict but they were not allowing discussion on a major reform like demonetization. Briefing reporters after the meeting, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said Modi asked MPs to spread awareness about a “less-cash” and digital economy in the same way they enroll people in voters list during elections and highlight the use of EVMs irrespective of which party one votes for.Modi’s message was for members of all political parties, Kumar said.”In a democracy, ‘janshakti’ (people’s power) should be above ‘rajya shakti’ (state power). My government has brought this into prominence,” Modi said, referring to the people’s “support” to demonetization despite facing hardships. To buttress his point, he also recalled how a large number of people gave up on their LPS subsidy on his call at a time when the debate was about whether 9 or 12 subsidised cylinders should be given annually to a household.The opposition is not interested in a debate over demonetization, he said, telling party members that their job is to educate people, who have shown utmost discipline. He said that no major political party has demanded a rollback of demonetization and that it would have been better, had they discussed the issue and offered suggestions to the government. That opposition parties did not agree to a debate despite his presence in the Rajya Sabha, a demand made by them earlier, has exposed them, he said.The parliamentary party passed a resolution condemning opposition parties as it accused them of “shifting goal posts” over the issue. It also hailed people for their support. Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan made a presentation during the meeting about his ministry’s work to shift towards less-cash and digital transactions. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, a former Goa chief minister, spoke about how the state government was working to ensure that 60 per cent of transactions in the state were cashless.

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

Manohar Parrikar likely to celebrate birthday in Goa, address rally

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is likely to celebrate his birthday on December 13 at his birthplace in Goa where he is also expected to address a ‘Vijay Sankalp’ rally, a BJP functionary said on Wednesday.”Parrikar will be celebrating his birthday at Parra, the village where he was born and has an ancestral house. The village is next to Mapusa town, where he celebrates all festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali and Christmas,” BJP legislator Michael Lobo, representing Calangute constituency said.The party workers and well-wishers will prepare a special cake for the Defence Minister. “The theme of the cake will be defence. It will be decorated with miniature airplanes, tanks, guns and others. We want to salute the son of soil, our own leader,” Lobo said.Parrikar will address a ‘Vijay Sankalp’ rally in Parra on his birthday. “We are expecting more than 6,000 people to attend the rally,” Lobo added.

Demonetization: Modi slams oppn for not allowing debate, says ‘major reform’ exercise had people support

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday flayed the opposition for its “undemocratic” act of not allowing a debate on the demonetization issue even as he asserted that the “major reform” exercise had the support of the people.In his remarks made at the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting, he said Parliament in the past decades has debated a number of government decisions, which had caused tensions and social conflict, but it was now deadlocked by rival parties over a “constructive decision” like demonetization.Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar, who briefed reporters about the meeting, however, did not elaborate about the past decisions being referred to by the Prime Minister.Asserting that India is moving towards less-cash and a digital economy, Modi asked MPs to spread awareness about it in a similar manner they do so about EVMs and voters-list during elections.’Janshakti’ (people’s support) is with the government on demonetization, he said. “What some opposition parties are doing is undemocratic and the issue should be debated in Parliament.”The Parliamentary Party also passed a resolution condemning opposition parties as it accused them of “shifting goal posts”. The party in the resolution also hailed people for their support.The resolution, proposed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and seconded by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, also asked the opposition to allow the debate to take place.Kumar named Congress and TMC among the parties stalling Parliament.”Opposition parties are doing so for no valid reason and as part of a political agenda. We have made it clear that the Prime Minister will speak in both the Houses but they keep changing the goal posts,” he said.Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan made a presentation during the meeting about his ministry’s work to move towards less-cash and digital transactions. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar also spoke about how Goa government is working to ensure that 60 per cent of transactions in the state are cashless. He is also the former state Chief Minister.The meeting also condoled the death of several luminaries, including Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, Cho Ramaswamy, journalist and commentator, RSS functionary and former Governor Bhai Mahavir among others.

Demonetization has hit those involved in chit fund scams: Manohar Parrikar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday claimed that those involved in chit fund scams were now in trouble due to the Centre’s demonetization decision.”Many people were thinking what will happen to BJP’s plan to hold (Vijay Sankalp) rallies (in Goa) after demonetisation.But we don’t gather people for rallies by paying money,” Parrikar said at Siolim here.Ruling BJP is holding ‘Vijay Sankalp’ rallies in Goa ahead of next year’s Assembly polls.”Mayawati, Mamata, Mulayam might have been in grief but not BJP. Those who have looted crores of rupees through chit funds are feeling the heat of demonetisation,” Parrikar said, hitting out at former Uttar Pradesh chief ministers Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav, and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.”One Chief Minister was so much hurt by the demonetisation that she started accusing Army of taking over the state,” he said, without naming West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.Some members of Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress have faced cases in a chit fund scam case.”My sleep was disturbed (following her allegations). I enquired with Army, they told me that they have communicated with them (West Bengal government). They only recommended where they (Army) should be stationed. Only after that I slept in peace,” Parrikar said.

Didi vs Army: Parrikar slams Mamata, says Army was doing routine survey

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said army was present in some toll plazas in West Bengal to study the carrying capacity of the roads in case of mass armed forces movement and accused West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of playing politics over the forces.”The other day I was listening to the statement by a Chief Minister of one state. Army had gone (to that state) for routine survey. Every year once or twice, they visit the states to study the vehicle carrying capacity of the road.This is done considering the preparedness to move the armed forces,” Parrikar said without naming Banerjee during the ‘Vijay Sankalp’ rally at Goa’s Mayem constituency.”These forces don’t move in a group of 100-200, they are 10,000-15,000 in numbers and for such movement at-least 500 trucks are required. Therefore, the Army always check(s) the carrying capacity of the road,” he said.”Also they (Army) checks how many lorries (trucks) are available in the nearby villages. This is their annual exercise,” said the Defence Minister.Explaining Army s presence at the toll posts, Parrikar said, “they were standing at toll post because the vehicles stop there. If Army wants to ask any information, it can be sought there.”Parrikar also said, “I don’t know what the Chief Minister felt. When I was about to go to sleep, the television started flashing (the statement) that Army has taken over.” “I inquired (with the Army), they informed me that the proper communication has been made with the state government.Originally the Army was supposed to conduct that exercise on November 28, 29 and 30, but since ‘Bharat Bandh’ was declared on November 28, we were requested to shift it to December 1 and 2,” he added.”I can understand the grief (she suffered) due to demonetization but why should Army be involved in politics.You will never find Army involved in politics. That day I witnessed what is political frustration,” the former Goa Chief Minister said.Parrikar further accused that many politicians were in grief because “those who had stocked money as a preparedness towards election, their money has became useless overnight due to demonetisation”.On December 2, presence of army personnel at toll plazas in West Bengal triggered a row with Banerjee remaining at the state secretariat overnight in protest, asking was it an “army coup”, drawing a stinging condemnation from the Centre which said the remark showed her “political frustration”.

Didi vs Army: Mamata threatens legal action, BJP says TMC supremo ‘hallucinating’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Finally leaving the secretariat office after 36 hours, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee came out guns blazing at the Centre as she threatened to take legal action against the Narendra Modi government if Army deployment is not removed from certain areas across the state. ‘If Government doesn’t withdraw army deployed in the state, we will fight legally,’ she said after emerging from the Secretariat. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief also branded the present regime as a ‘daku government’, further alleging that the Centre is looting the country. ‘Modi government has become ‘Daku government’, just want to say that Modi ji is looting people’s money,’ she added. Meanwhile, responding to Mamata’s ultimatum, Wing Commander S S Birdi of the Eastern Command CPRO said ‘the Army deployment (in West Bengal) won’t be called off as it is a routine exercise and will continue till midnight today.’Mamata has accused the central government of “deploying the army” along a highway toll plaza at the second Hooghly Bridge, about 500 metres from the secretariat ‘Nabanna’ in neighbouring Howrah district.Earlier today, TMC threw an open challenge to the Centre to come forth with the documents proving that the West Bengal Government gave the green signal for the deployment of Army troops in certain areas in the state.Speaking to ANI, TMC spokesperson Derek O’Brien asserted that no such document existed, adding that he would hang his head in shame if the government could prove him otherwise.Nevertheless, the Parliament again witnessed ruckus today as the opposition continued to corner the Centre over the army’s deployment in West Bengal. The Army on its part strongly rebutted Banerjee’s allegations that its personnel were deployed at toll plazas without informing the state government and were collecting money, saying the exercise was being carried out in coordination with Kolkata Police. The Army personnel, however, had left the toll plaza near the secretariat last night. TMC MLAs and ministers also staged a dharna outside Raj Bhavan in Kolkata. Banerjee left the state secretariat in the evening after she spent over 24 hours and fired a fresh salvo at the Modi government.Accusing the Modi government of making a “wrong and concocted” statement in Parliament regarding the deployment of Army, Banerjee said her voice could not be stifled by “hatching conspiracy and showing force”. Banerjee also said the state government will take legal recourse if there is no withdrawal of army personnel from all toll plazas in the state.Speaking to reporters late last night at ‘Nabanna’, the state secretariat in Kolkata, she said, “I will stay at the secretariat to guard our democracy”. “Is this a military coup’” she asked. She said that army personnel were there in different districts like Murshidabad, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, North 24 Paragans, Burdwan, Howrah, Hooghly etc. “The army is deployed without informing the state government. This is unprecedented and a very serious matter.” The issue was raised in both Houses of Parliament with main opposition Congress too seeking clarification on the army deployment at 19 toll plazas in West Bengal.The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday launched a series of scathing attacks on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who objected to army’s presence in the state, saying her ‘unnerved mind has given way to hallucination, which certainly requires medical care.’ BJP says Mamata rattled by demonetization BJP leader Sidharth Nath Singh said that the Chief Minister’s mind has been rattled after the Centre demonetized Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes.While listing out the ‘chronology of Mamata’s rattled mind to hallucinating mind’ after the Chief Minister equated the mock drill by the army to a coup, Singh said.‘First calling it financial emergency and demanding complete roll back. Saying united opposition will march to the President, however few takers in the opposition ranks. Threatening of riots in the country and giving 72 hours deadline to the Prime Minister. Holding Dharnas in UP and Bihar, although poorly attended. Conspiracy of her being eliminated by not allowing aircraft to land on a low fusel. Recent, and the worst, creating panic that there is an attempt of army coup,’ Singh stated in an official press release.Singh further said it was unfortunate that the Indian army had to come up with a proof that they had informed the state administration much ahead of their routine drill.‘This is the lowest of the low for Mamata for which she must apologies to the Indian Army and her MPs to the nation for stalling the Parliament,’ Singh said .In Lok Sabha, Parrikar termed the deployment a “routine exercise not unique to West Bengal” and saying similar operations to collect information on heavy vehicle movement that can be used during national emergencies had last month being conducted in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and JharkhandAlong with West Bengal, similar exercise was carried out in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram, Parrikar said while responding to TMC and Congress MPs.He also stated that originally the exercise was planned for November 28-30 but was shifted to December 1 and 2 at the request of Kolkata Police as those dates were clashing with the protests against demonetisation.”It is shocking that a Chief Minister is saying this. The Army’s deployment was part of routine exercise which has been going on for several years, which has been going on for last 15-20 years. Even last year it was held on November 19 to 21.” “Concerned officials were informed in West Bengal. The original date was fixed for November 28 to 30 but due to Bharat Bandh the local police had advised the army to shift it to December 1 and 2,” he said. “Due to traffic congestion, the exercise is being done with the help of local police.” TMC leaders in both Houses alleged that neither the state government, nor local administration including police were taken into confidence on the exercise or their permission sought.Congress and BSP too wanted to know from the government how such an unprecedented move to carry out an army exercise without taking state government into confidence was done.”It was very unfortunate that army has been dragged into an unnecessary controversy,” Parrikar said. “It was political frustration rather than projection of correct situation.” The Army also released letters written to the West Bengal government on the exercise.”It is happening in nine states now across 80 locations,” GOC Bengal area (officiating) Maj Gen Sunil Yadav said.Reacting to Chief Minister’s allegations on collection of money, he said, “We deny all charges with all contempt.” “Allegations of collection of money by Army personnel are also totally baseless,” he added. Banerjee today said the Home Secretary has written to the Centre asking for the withdrawal of Army and even after that “they are not removed then the state will seek legal assistance”.”There must be constitutional earmark. The Home Secretary has written again (asking for the removal of the Army). But still if they are not removed and kept here forcefully we will seek legal assistance. Law will take its own course,” Banerjee said.”We will continue the people’s fight. Threatening them will not be able to stop them,” Banerjee said.With inputs from PTI and ANI

Army deployment in West Bengal echoes in Parliament: TMC alleges dictatorship; BJP says routine exercise

New Delhi: The row over army taking over road toll plazas in West Bengal on Friday echoed in Parliament with Trinamool Congress (TMC) seeing “sinister” designs behind the move and the government vehemently denying the charge, saying it was a routine exercise conducted in full knowledge of the local authorities.

The issue was raised in both Houses of Parliament with main opposition Congress too seeking clarification on the army deployment at 19 toll plazas in West Bengal. In Lok Sabha, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar termed it a “routine exercise not unique to West Bengal” and saying that similar operations to collect information on heavy vehicle movement that can be used during national emergencies had last month being conducted in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.

Along with West Bengal, similar exercise was carried out in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Meghlaya and Mizoram, he said while responding to TMC and Congress MPs. He also stated that originally the exercise was planned for 28-30 November but was shifted to 1 and 2 December at the request of Kolkata police as those dates were clashing with the protests against demonetisation.

“It is shocking that a chief minister is saying this. The Army’s deployment was part of routine exercise which has been going on for last 15-20 years. Even last year it was held on 19 to 21 November,” Parrikar said.

Manohar-Parrikar_PTIManohar-Parrikar_PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

The minister said Army’s Eastern Command has been carrying out the exercise in West Bengal, Assam and other North Eastern states and a similar exercise has already been carried out in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.  “Concerned officials were informed in West Bengal. The original date was fixed for 28 to 30 November but due to Bharat Bandh the local police had advised the army to shift it to 1 and 2 December,” he said. “Due to traffic congestion, the exercise is being done with the help of local police.”

TMC leaders in both Houses alleged that neither the state government, nor local administration including police were taken into confidence on the exercise or their permission sought. Congress and BSP too wanted to know from the government how such an unprecedented move to carry out an army exercise without taking state government into confidence was done.

“It was very unfortunate that army has been dragged into an unnecessary controversy,” Parrikar said. “It was political frustration rather than projection of correct situation.”

As soon as Lok Sabha assembled this morning, TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay raised the issue of army deployment at 19 places in West Bengal, claiming that the move was a challenge to the federal structure of the country and completely politically motivated.

He said army personnel were deployed at these places, including near the state secretariat, “without informing anyone in the state secretariat”. “It is a fantastic situation. Army today said that it was a routine exercise being carried out in the North Eastern states. But West Bengal does not come under the territorial jurisdiction of the Northeast,” he said.

Bandyopadhyay said the people of the country have great faith in the Army but if indeed such an exercise was scheduled, the Centre should have communicated to the state government. He said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been staging a ‘dharna’ in the Secretariat demanding withdrawal of the Army. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar asked the TMC not to drag Army into politics and added that the defence personnel have been protecting the country as well as democracy.

“Whatever the army has done was part of a routine exercise. It is completely wrong to drag army into politics,” he said. Raising the issue in Rajya Sabha, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said army is India’s pride as it has upheld its unity and integrity beside protecting the borders. It has also come to the rescue during emergency situtions like flood and riots, he said adding that army is requisitioned at the request of a state government.

But in West Bengal, the chief secretary, administration and Director General of Police had no information of army taking over toll plazas at 19 locations in the state, he said. “This is probably the first time that the chief minister of West Bengal has lodged this kind of protest where she stayed put for the night in the State Secretariat and is still there,” he said. “This is a strange thing happening. Without asking state government, chief secretary or DGP, toll plazas of state government are taken over.”

Azad said it is being said that Army was collecting information on truck movements but such an exercise is not even done in Jammu and Kashmir. All such information is available with National Highways Authority of India or road transport departments. “This is an issue of grave concern.” Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC) said what happened in West Bengal has never been witnessed in the state’s history. Army seized toll plazas and started putting stickers on vehicles.

“I will not drag the army in any controversy. We are very proud of the army,” he said wanting to know under what provisions of law and Constitution was such a deployment carried out and alleging “sinister design” to “defame the leader opposing demonetisation” and creating “fear psychosis”.

Mayawati, BSP supremo and former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh said the move to deploy army without the state government’s permission was an attack on the federal structure of the country. Terming the statements as factually incorrect, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre said such exercises have been carried out in coordination with the local police.

Earlier the exercise was planned for 28 November but was shifted on specific request by Kolkata Police in view of the Bharat Bandh, he said, adding that the exercise was to ascertain availability of vehicles during national emergency. The annual exercise are carried out for collection of data and similar exercises were also carried out in Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, he said, adding that letters were written to the Police Commissioner as well as District Magistrates for conducting it.

At this point, slogan-shouting TMC and Congress members contested the minister’s statement and trooped into the Well. Deputy Chairman P J Kurien had a tough time controlling the situation and even had an angry spat with Congress members including Pramod Tiwari as they continued to shout even when he stood up to control the noisy scenes.

“If you don’t know the basic rule of not disturbing the Chair, you are not deserving to be a member,” he angrily remarked without naming any member. “Mr Tiwari, I will take action against you.    This is unheard of that the Chair will not be allowed to say,” he said as members piped down and returned to their places.

Kurien said if the members found any part of the statement made by the minister as misleading or incorrect, they can invoke the rule book and give notice. Roy continued to insist that the minister was misleading. “If any member or minister misleads the House, give notice, chairman will consider it,” Kurien said.

As Roy continued to insist that the minister was misleading the House by saying that the state government had been informed, treasury benches joined in to protest. At this point, an angry Kurien snapped at Bhupender Yadav (BJP) saying “shut up… you are not in the Chair.” Roy said the minister was not stating if specific permission was taken for December 1 deployment and comparing
the exercise to national emergency.

I&B Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the reference to emergency was to situations like floods or tsunami and said similar exercises are annually carried out and had happened in West Bengal previously as well. And recently, it has been carried out in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar, and along with West Bengal it was also being carried out in North Eastern states, he said, adding “it
is a sensitive matter. Let us not politise it.”

Kurien told Roy that he can give a notice on any misleading statement being made in the House and he will consider it. Derek O’Brien raised a Point of Order under Rule 249 related to authentication of papers laid by the government on the floor of the House.

He claimed that it is “selective placing of papers” by the government and added that he will place some papers on the floor of the House to prove his point on Monday.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 15:13 IST

MoS Home puts an end to speculation, clarifies four militants had entered Pathakot airbase

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Putting to end speculation about the number of terrorists involved in Pathankot attack, the government made it clear on Tuesday that only four militants had entered the airforce station to carry out the strike that left eight people dead. Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said “four Pakistan-based terrorists” had carried out the January 2 attack.”Four Pakistan-based terrorists entered Punjab via Janial road, Dhusi turn, near Ravi river bridge, Gulpur Simli village – Akalgarh and attacked airforce station in Pathankot,” he said in a written reply to a question by Congress MP Ravneet Singh, grandson of slain Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh.The Congress MP had asked about the number of terrorists who entered Punjab for Pathankot attack and the route used by them as well as the details of terrorists killed and arrested along with the weapons recovered from them. Ahir said all these terrorists were neutralised by the security forces. The security forces recovered 4 AK rifles, 32 AK magazines, 3 pistols, 7 pistol magazines, one under barrel grenade launcher, 40 hand grenades and one dagger from them, he said.The answer is contrary to a statement made by Home Minister Rajnath Singh on March 4 when he had said that charred remains, apart from four bodies of terrorists, were found at the debris after security forces searched the Pathankot airforce station when the operation ended. “Charred remains were found and sent for forensic examination. We are awaiting for reports,” had said.There was speculation that the Home Minister had made this statement on a presentation made by the elite NSG, which was not corroborated either by defence personnel or central security agencies. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar too had said that six terrorists were involved in the attack.The National Investigation Agency, which was probing the case, has been maintaining that the investigators had found only four bodies. The Home Ministry has recently given NIA the sanction to file a charge sheet against Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar and three others in the Pathankot terror attack.The Home Ministry has in the past been left red faced over answers to Parliament questions including another Pakistan related controversy where it informed the House that they do not know about whereabouts of most wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim, forcing the government to retract and clarify that Dawood is in Pakistan.

Pathankot attack: Only four militants had entered the airbase, clarifies govt

New Delhi: Putting to end speculation about the number of terrorists involved in Pathankot attack, the government on Tuesday made it clear that only four militants had entered the airforce station to carry out the strike that left eight people dead.

Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said “four Pakistan-based terrorists” had carried out the 2 January attack.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“Four Pakistan-based terrorists entered Punjab via Janial road, Dhusi turn, near Ravi river bridge, Gulpur Simli village – Akalgarh and attacked airforce station in Pathankot,” he said in a written reply to a question by Congress MP Ravneet Singh, grandson of slain Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh.

The Congress MP had asked about the number of terrorists who entered Punjab for Pathankot attack and the route used by them as well as the details of terrorists killed and arrested along with the weapons recovered from them.

Ahir said all these terrorists were neutralised by the security forces. The security forces recovered 4 AK rifles, 32 AK magazines, 3 pistols, 7 pistol magazines, one under barrel grenade launcher, 40 hand grenades and one dagger from them, he said.

The answer is contrary to a statement made by Home Minister Rajnath Singh on 4 March when he had said that charred remains, apart from four bodies of terrorists, were found at the debris after security forces searched the Pathankot airforce station when the operation ended.

“Charred remains were found and sent for forensic examination. We are awaiting for reports,” had said.

There was speculation that the Home Minister had made this statement on a presentation made by the elite NSG, which was not corroborated either by defence personnel or central security agencies.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar too had said that six terrorists were involved in the attack.

The National Investigation Agency, which was probing the case, has been maintaining that the investigators had found only four bodies.

The Home Ministry has recently given NIA the sanction to file a charge sheet against Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar and three others in the Pathankot terror attack.

The Home Ministry has in the past been left red faced over answers to Parliament questions including another Pakistan related controversy where it informed the House that they do not know about whereabouts of most wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim, forcing the government to retract and clarify that Dawood is in Pakistan.

First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 16:28 IST

Goa to receive Rs 350 crore Central funds in next 5 years: Manohar Parrikar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Goa will get Rs 350 crore funds in the next five years to be spent on the mining belt in the state, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said here. “There’s Rs 150 crore pending with Central government which will be released soon. This is the amount collected after levying 10 per cent tax on the profits earned by mining firms,” he said referring to the Goa Iron Ore Permanent Fund.”Another Rs 50 crore is with the Central government after levying 10% tax on the fresh extraction,” the former Chief Minister said while addressing BJP’s Vijay Sankalp rally at Sanvordem village in South Goa last evening.”Together from the mining sector there is Rs 200 crore which will be released by the central government,” he added.In addition, he said Rs 140 crore are in central coffers as part of tax on Forest diversion. Parrikar said a total of Rs 350 crore from mining and forest would be released to the state which has to be used in eight different talukas (mining belt).The minister assured that with BJP government in the Centre, Goa can be developed into a model state if the party is voted to power during 2017 Goa Legislative Assembly elections.

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

If Pakistan fires once, we fire twice at them: Manohar Parrikar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today said India did not seek war, but would “gouge out eyes” of the enemy if provoked.”We don’t itch for a fight, but if someone looks at the country with evil eye, we will gouge his eyes out and put them back in his hand, we have that much power,” he said while addressing a rally in Aldona Assembly constituency in Goa. Goans can tell the world that they had sent a man to the Centre who had slapped the enemy across the face, he said.”There was no firing on the border for the last three days because if they (Pakistan) fire once, we fire twice at them. We are giving tit-for-tat response, and when they realised it, they approached us, seeking to stop it,” Parrikar said in an apparent reference to the request by Pakistan for DGMO-level talks three days ago.Asserting that, Armed Forces were fully prepared, Parrikar said his mother had taught him that “even if you are going to hunt a rabbit, be prepared to kill a tiger”.

‘When will the government show its patriotism?’ Sena needles Centre over LoC tension

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Needling the Centre over Pakistan’s offensive and mutilation of the body of an Indian soldier, Shiv Sena on Thursday said the Union government, which took credit for the surgical strike across LoC, should now admit its failure to bring an end to killings at the border.”In the case of demonetization, the government is coming out with new proof that would make people patriots. But it is not ready to talk on the activities of Pakistan 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.After the surgical strike Pakistani activities have only increased and deaths of soldiers have doubled, it said. In spite of 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,” the NDA ally said.”If the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) has made everyone come out on the streets with one decision (of demonetization), 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 body of one of them being mutilated, after which the Indian Army launched a massive counter assault along the Line of Control (LoC) in north Kashmir.

Did Parrikar do the navy justice by wearing a pair of sandals while commissioning INS Chennai?

Is it really that difficult to understand that a dress code carries a certain sanctity with it? In the armed forces, how you dress makes a major difference. Each uniform has a role and is worn with a certain unquestionable elan. It has a meaning, a certain sartorial arrogance that is necessary for morale.

But it seems that Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar was not aware of this when he showed up to commission INS Chennai, an indigenously designed guided missile destroyer, in Mumbai on Monday. Photographs doing the rounds on social media highlighted his casual attire, saying that he was dressed in a ‘sloppy, slovenly rude manner.’

Defence Minster Manohar Parrikar and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba with other officers during the commissioning ceremony of INS Chennai in Mumbai on Monday. PTIDefence Minster Manohar Parrikar and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba with other officers during the commissioning ceremony of INS Chennai in Mumbai on Monday. PTI

Defence Minster Manohar Parrikar and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba with other officers during the commissioning ceremony of INS Chennai in Mumbai on Monday. PTI

Imagine, you go to commission a destroyer and end up ‘destroying’ the ambience of the occasion. There you have a group of Admirals including the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba, and a retired officer of high rank dressed to the hilt for a ceremony that ranks as one of the most vital in the Indian Navy’s history. In the same picture, we have Parrikar, dressed casually in chappals (slippers) as if out for a Sunday afternoon stroll.

What sort of a person goes on board a naval ship as the senior most VIP wearing chappals, with an untucked shirt hanging out of his trousers? Had he been dressed ethnically, one could have probably accepted the open-toed footwear; but sadly, that was not the case either.

When you go to a glittering ceremony where sailors are all lined up in their glorious best, proud to wear ‘INS Chennai’ on their caps and are cheering the commissioning of their floating arsenal and home, damn it man!, the least you can do is honour them for their brief, shining moment in the sun. Crisp marching, the sound of music and a chief guest in slippers!

Even the ladies invited on board were advised not to wear high heels or chappals.

This is not a grotesque version of the ‘see what a straightforward guy I am’ approach. It is actually an insult of the armed forces as Parrikar was conducting the ceremony to induct the third guided missile destroyer in the Kolkata class.

Didn’t anyone tell him about ethics, a code, a certain courtesy that you display to the officers who are honouring you. How can you not dress properly…or adequately.

This is not the first time he is doing it either. We have seen photos of him taking a guard of honour as if he was strolling down Miramar beach in Goa.

The point is that it is a big deal, it is really important and you are duty bound by the numerous perks and privileges you get as the defence minister – if nothing else – to rise to the occasion with grace and dignity.

Yes, there are those who will say, so what, it’s okay, there are bigger things in life. But disrespecting the armed forces cannot simply be ignored because we equate it with being spartan and spiritually ascetic.

You are shabby sir and it is not done. And it is not as if your prime minister is setting the low standard. On the contrary, Narendra Modi has become sartorially elegant and raised the bar ever since he assumed office. Suggest you do the same and follow your chief’s example before your ship sails away.

Until then, do not be derisive of our armed forces and their traditions.

First Published On : Nov 22, 2016 19:05 IST

New defence policy out, blacklisted firms to be reviewed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Defence Ministry will review all cases of blacklisted firms as it prepares a new list of such entities following the new policy unveiled by it which is a mixture of heavy fines and graded banning.Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday said that the Director General (Acquisition) will draw up a list as required under the new policy and hence old cases will also be looked into.”That does not mean they will be taken out. Don’t interpret… they will be examined. What is the status, how many years they have been blacklisted for and why they were blacklisted,” Parrikar told PTI on the sidelines of a seminar here.He said that as per the new policy, there has to be a new list. “So the list will have to be re-ascertained,” the Minister said.The review will include about a dozen firms that came under blanket blacklisting in the previous regime, a move which the forces were unhappy about as it proved detrimental to their modernisation plans.Some of the firms like Singapore Technologies have approached the courts seeking removal of blacklisting.Singapore Technologies’ argument is that it has been wrongly blacklisted since no contract was ever awarded to it and neither is it mentioned in the charge sheet filed by the CBI in connection with a bribery case involving the then Ordinance Factory Board chief.Under its new liberalised blacklisting policy for arms companies, India will now be open to doing business even with a banned firm if there is no alternative available to its weapon system or equipment in the market.This can be done on the grounds of national security, operational military readiness and export obligations, after the vice-chief of the Service concerned, the chief of the integrated defence staff or the additional secretary (defence production) signs a certificate to that effect and gets permission from the “competent authority”, who is the Defence Minister.Another key element of the new policy is that unlike the blanket ban of 10 years, the government has said that ban on serious defaulters will be for minimum five years.The policy does not mention the maximum time period for ban.Called the ‘Guidelines of the Ministry of Defence for Penalties in Business Dealings with Entities’, the policy, which has been in the works for long, aims to ensure probity and transparency in defence deals without affecting the modernisation plans.

India-Pak relations cannot continue at cost of national security: Parrikar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the wake of the escalating tension at the border with Pakistan, Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday said that good relations with neighbouring nations are always welcomed but not at the cost of national security.”Prime Minister Narendra Modi made efforts to maintain the relations with the neighbouring country, the people criticised him for that too. We would welcome good relations with any neighbour. Two neighbours being friendly always helps, but at the same time not at the cost of national security,” said Parrikar said at the commissioning ceremony of INS Chennai.Commenting on the consistent ceasefire violation by Pakistan on the Line of Control (LoC), he said that the Indian Army does not initiate any action unless provoked from the other side of the border.Parrikar asserted that standard procedures are being followed to bring back Indian jawan Chandu Babulal Chauhan, who inadvertently crossed the LoC, and added the Pakistan Government has assured that he is alive and safe.Throwing light on his upcoming visit to Bangladesh, Parrikar said it is a planned trip, adding a Defence Minister should visit neighbouring nations to build good ties.Parrikar described the commissioning of INS Chennai as a historic day for the Indian Navy.Following the commissioning, INS Chennai will be placed under the operational and administrative control of the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command. On completion of some additional sea trials of ship-borne systems, it will be assigned to the Western Fleet and would be based at Mumbai.INS Chennai, manufactured by Mazagaon Dock Shipbuilders Limited, Mumbai, is among the largest destroyers constructed in India having a length of 164 meter and displacement of over 7,500 tonne. The ship is a potent platform capable of undertaking a variety of tasks and missions, spanning the full spectrum of maritime warfare.Armed with supersonic surface to surface ‘BrahMos’ missiles and ‘Barak-8’ long range surface to air missiles, the ship possesses formidable prowess of missile technology. The undersea warfare capable boasts of indigenously developed anti-submarine weapons and sensors, prominently the Hull Mounted Sonar ‘HUMSA-NG’, Heavyweight Torpedo Tube Launchers, Rocket Launchers and Towed Arrau sonar capability.

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

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Army is eager to teach a lesson to our country’s enemy and it is just waiting for permission from the government, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Sunday.”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.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.

India’s No First Use policy on nuclear weapons ‘ambiguous’: Pakistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan on Friday described as “ambiguous” India’s ‘No First Use’ policy on nuclear weapons and said it cannot be a substitute for verifiable arms control and restraint measures, days Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar questioned the doctrine.”Pakistan believes the ambiguous ‘No First Use’ Declaration is not verifiable and amounts to nothing. It can’t be a substitute for verifiable arms control and restraint measures proposed by Pakistan’s standing offer of Strategic Restraint Regime,” Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said in his weekly briefing. He was responding to the recent remarks by Parrikar in which he asked 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”. Later he had said the remarks were personal in nature.Zakaria said statement by the defence minister of a country that repeatedly and constantly heightens tension and maintains an aggressive posture should be a matter of concern for all. He said signing of nuclear deals by some countries is a matter of concern as it is only reinforcing arrogance and belligerence with which India conducts itself in the region and beyond, in an indirect reference to Indo-Japan nuclear deal.Zakaria also said Pakistan established itself as a serious candidate for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG), increasing number of countries were supporting the non-discriminatory approach.”There is also growing recognition of the fact that 2008 exemption to India neither benefited non-proliferation regime nor objective of strategic stability in South Asia,” he said.The spokesman expressed the confidence that members of the NSG would bear in mind the need to prevent further erosion of non-proliferation regime and preserving credibility of the NSG as a rule-based organisation. He said Pakistan has expressed its openness to measures for strengthening non-proliferation objectives to the NSG, which included proposal for binding bilateral agreement with India on non-testing.

Demonetization | Narendra Modi’s ‘daring’ move ended terror-funding in Kashmir: Manohar Parrikar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Since the demonetization of high currency notes terror funding has come down to zero and there hasn’t been stone-pelting on security forces, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said in Mumbai on Tuesday. He thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the “daring” move, which, he said, will also help clamp down on the narcotic drugs.”Earlier, there were rates: Rs 500 for stone pelting (on security forces in Kashmir) and Rs 1,000 for doing something else. PM has brought terror funding to zero,” Parrikar said. “In the last few days after PM’s daring move there hasn’t been stone pelting on security forces. I congratulate PM for it,” he said, speaking at an event here organised by the BJP MLA Atul Bhatkhalkar.Talking to reporters later, Parrikar said those who sponsor terror will be affected by the demonetization. Earlier, at the event, Parrikar said, “Bhatkhalkar did not tell me beforehand that he will felicitate me.” A citation was presented to Parrikar, which lauded his role in surgical strikes in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir. It also thanked him for providing relief to people affected by land development rules in the vicinity of Central Ordnance Depots.
ALSO READ Modi should apologise for fooling people on black money issue: Congress”When I became Defence Minister, I did not think there will be things like this (dealing with COD-land issue). I thought Defence meant bang-bang on the border,” he said. “Altogether, 17.38 lakh acres of land in the country is under Defence possession. Defence is the largest land owner in India,” Parrikar said.”There was delay in resolving COD issue as there were concerns over security on one hand and people’s concerns on the other,” he said. “Whether it’s border security or economic security, PM Modi has taken daring decisions,” he said, adding “whatever is being done, our jawans on border are doing it, I and PM are just supporting it.”
ALSO READ Demonetization: Modi targets Congress; says poor enjoying sound sleep, rich running to buy sleeping pills”Problem of new notes circulation will be resolved to a large extent in the next four-five days,” Parrikar said. In the next Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections, nobody will be left with power to bribe voters, Parrikar said, without naming the ally Shiv Sena which has been critical of demonetization. The Defence Minister said an issue should not be made out of his simplicity and his shunning various official perks. “I came to Mumbai thrice (on personal visits) and police didn’t know,” Parrikar said.
ALSO READ War on black money: RBI asks banks to waive ATM charges till December 30 BJP MP Gopal Shetty said he will expose Defence officers who indulged in irregularities while dealing with the COD issue. Providing relief to people in suburban Kandivli and Malad here, Parrikar had earlier this year said the local military authority (LMA) will have to respond within 30 days to applications for no-objection certificate for redevelopment and construction near the defence establishment, failing which the state government and the municipal corporation can take a call.The move was welcomed by residents of buildings within the 500-meter radius of the Central Ordnance Depot, a defence establishment spanning across 17 acres of Kandivli and Malad. Two notifications – issued by a cautious government in 2010 in the wake of the Adarsh scam and by the ministry of defence (MoD) in 2011 – had scuttled all redevelopment projects in the highly congested areas of Kandivli and Malad, as they made permission from the LMA mandatory for any construction within 500-meter radius of COD.

Ceasefire agreement redundant: 286 violations by Pakistan post surgical strike

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The 2003 India-Pakistan ceasefire agreement has virtually become redundant with a whopping 286 incidents of firing and shelling along LoC and IB in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistani troops that resulted in death of 26 people, including 14 security personnel, since the surgical strike on terrorist launch pads in PoK.There have been 186 ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops along the over 190 km International Border (IB) in Jammu frontier, while 104 violations of the agreement took place along the over 500 km Line of Control (LoC). “There has been 182 ceasefire violation by Pak Rangers along IB targeting civilian areas and BoPs in Kathua, Samba and Jammu districts since the surgical strike on the intervening night September 28 and 29,” a senior BSF officer said on Sunday.They also resorted to firing of 120 mortar bombs and from automatic weapons very heavily in which civilians and security personnel were killed and a large number of people including women and children suffered injuries, he said, adding that a large number of cattle perished in the shelling and huge damage was caused to houses.
ALSO READ Pak shelling kills another soldier on LoC, toll reaches 14A large population was forced out of their homes, harvesting of paddy crops halted and marriage season was badly affected in the border areas due to heavy shelling and firing. The officer said there have been 85 ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the LoC in Jammu region falling under 16 Corps area and 19 ceasefire violations have been recorded along the LoC in Kashmir region falling under 15 Corps area.India and Pakistan entered into no-firing agreement along Indo-Pak border in Jammu and Kashmir in 2003. On November 25, 2003, the Director Generals of Military Operations of India and Pakistan agreed to observe a ceasefire along the International Border, Line of Control and Actual Ground Position Line in Jammu and Kashmir. The worst-ever Pakistani shelling targeting civil population took place on November 1 when eight persons, including two children and four women, were killed and 22 others injured along the IB and the LoC in five sectors of J&K, forcing Indian troops to give befitting reply by destroying 14 Pakistani posts and killing two of their troopers.A total of 26 people, including 12 civilians, were killed and more than 85 suffered injuries in Pakistani shelling and firing along IB and LoC in Jammu. The state government had closed over 400 schools along the border in Jammu region in the wake of the ongoing heavy cross-border firing.On a visit to the state in the first week of November, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had asked the army personnel posted along the Line of Control to remain alert and give a befitting response to any “misadventure” from across the border. “While complimenting their valour and fortitude, which Parrikar said was the entire nation’s pride, he also impressed upon the soldiers to remain in a very high state of alert to give a befitting response to any misadventure from across,” an army officer said.There has been 583 ceasefire violations in 2014 and 405 in 2015. In 2014 and 2015, there were 153 and 152 such violations respectively on the LoC managed by the Army. The ceasefire violations on the International Border under the control of Border Security Force in 2014 and 2015 were 430 and 253 respectively.

India needs review of nuclear policy, but Parrikar’s public comment was avoidable: Uday Bhaskar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>When Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar made a public statement about India’s no first use (NFU) policy, the line between public and personal got blurred, says senior policy expert C Uday Bhaskar. According to him, the Defence Minister’s statement was extremely unusual, considering PM Modi was in Japan at that time inking a civil nuclear deal. Parrikar sparked a row on Thursday by questioning India’s ‘no first use’ nuclear policy. He said, “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. Taking a dig at the media, Parrikar said they would publish that the nuclear policy has changed. “It has not changed in government. It is my concept. As an individual, I also get a feeling. I am not saying you have to use it first. Hoax can be called off,” he said, adding that prior to the surgical strike, Pakistan Defence Minister used to threaten India with the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons.DNA spoke to C Uday Bhaskar, director of Society for Policy Studies, New Delhi about the possible ramifications of Parrikar’s comments. When asked if India needs to review its nuclear policy, Bhaskar said, “India’s NFU policy that was adopted during NDA I led by PM Vajpayee in May 1998 is in need of review – particularly in the light of the fact that over the last 18 years, the contour of India’s WMD capability, including command and control, and the regional security situation has undergone a change. But this review ought to be done within the CCS (cabinet committee on security) with appropriate professional inputs from the military”.He was of the opinion that such a review shouldn’t be triggered by remarks at a public event – more so when PM Modi was in Japan securing a major nuclear agreement. While Parrikar and the Defence Ministry later clarified unequivocally that it was his personal view, yet the ex-Goa CM’s comments have created a flutter in India’s political circle. Most parties including main opposition Congress criticised Parrikar’s off the cuff remark, saying greater restrain should be shown by him and any change in India’s nuclear doctrine must be a well thought out one. Regarding any possible fallout of Parrikar’s statement, Bhaskar said, “The nuclear issue is something on which every citizen has a right to express a view. It’s destructive potential is apocalyptic. We in India surely do not want another Hiroshima – or for that matter another Fukushima. So to that extent Mr Parrikar, as he said at the event – was fully justified in articulating his personal views. My only observation is about the sensitivity of the issue – NUCLEAR ; the context – the PM is in Japan; and the fact that when the Indian Defence Minister makes a public statement on an issue like this – the line between the personal and the official gets blurred. It could have been avoided to my mind – and the fact that the MoD quickly issued a statement is case in point. This may have been to firewall the ramifications.” However, Uday Bhaskar doesn’t believe that Parrikar’s comment will mar India’s NSG chances. According to him, India’s bid is blocked by China and they are not linking India’s NFU to its objection apropos the Indian NSG membership application. However, India’s nuclear cooperation with other countries may take a hit as India’s nuclear restraint has been its USP. Any review and subsequent alteration may change that dynamic, according to strategy affairs expert Uday Bhaskar. Bhaskar also said, “The whole issue of introducing irrationality and unpredictability was elucidated in some detail by Henry Kissinger in the late 1950’s – when he was a young academic. Parrikar’s remarks will definitely catalyse interest in this formulation about how India should invoke unpredictability or opacity – but this must be done in an astute manner so that it meets the challenges of crisis-stability – which Rawalpindi wants to ‘threaten’.”With agency inputs

Jointness among three armed services in the next few months: Manohar Parrikar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Defence Ministry could in the next “few months” finalise higher defence reforms to bring in jointness among the three armed services which will include creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar admitted that the services did not want to leave their “turf” but they have “slowly” come to understand that jointness would be much better than individual separate forces. “I am very clear on it but there were certain aspects which need to be also taken along. I have to take all the three services on board. Let me be very clear, no one wants to leave his turf,” he said during a book launch last night.Underlining that he was not speaking in Indian military context alone, Parrikar said across the militaries, the same situation prevailed. He added that the question was whether one will “force it down the throat” or get everyone on board. “I think, I have been discussing with the chiefs and slowly they have also come to understanding that jointness would be much better than individually separate forces,” he said, seeking a “few more months”.However, the Defence Minister made it clear that the final call would be taken by the Prime Minister. Incidentally, the chiefs of both the Army and the Air Force will retire this year end.Without naming any operation, he said though India has not gone for jointness, “recent operations” were quite successful joint operations. “The Air Force and the Army integrated so well in recent operations, not saying which operation. There was total synergy and there was no problem in working together,” he remarked.The post of CDS was recommended in 2001 by a Group of Ministers (GoM) which was set up in April 2000 to review the national security system in the aftermath of the Kargil War. The recommendation, if implemented, would be the first major military reform by the Narendra Modi government, which has already announced significant changes in the procurement process. Sources said the appointment of CDS is aimed at promoting “jointness at the top” when it comes to planning, operations and modernisation of the military. Though India has a tri-service command, it is headed by a three-star officer who is junior to the military chiefs who are four-star.The post of the CDS is likely to be a four-star and he would be in-charge of the tri-services command at Andaman and Nicobar islands, the strategic command in-charge of nuclear weapons along with the upcoming cyber and space command. Parrikar said in the coming months the Andaman and Nicobar command will become a joint command in “real sense” as it was the “need of the hour”, adding that currently there was only a “partial joint command”.Stating that some joint acquisition was being done, Parrikar pointed out that jointness can save the country lot of money. “We are are replicating the same thing. Air Force does the same thing. Army does the same thing. If there is jointness, lot of things can be synchronised. “Jointness of acquisition will be advantageous. In fact we are doing some joint acquisition. Give me few more months,” he said.Prime Minister Narendra Modi had late last year called for “jointness at the top” of the military establishment. Parrikar had in March last year said that CDS was a must and hoped to propose a mechanism for the creation of the post within the next three months. The defence minister said he does not care about what people say about him taking more time even though he had given a time period.”I realised if I hurry, I will do something which will not taste well just because my ego says ‘I said six months, I should force it in six months’,” he said, adding he was “not there to satisfy his ego”.”I am there to ensure it happens properly. So I decided that someone may say anything about it, I will do it properly. Today I am confident that I have understood,” he said.

Narendra Modi should tighten leash on Manohar Parrikar for his, India’s interests

Prime Minister Narendra Modi should have a word with his defence minister once he returns from his visit to Japan. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar needs to have the responsibilities of his high office explicitly explained to him. For a defence minister to talk loosely about India’s nuclear prowess at a time when the PM was en route Japan is unconscionable.

The garrulous minister poked a hole through India’s nuclear posture on Thursday, questioning a basic premise of India’s nuclear policy which New Delhi has been using in its negotiations with Japan as well as in its campaign for admission to the Nuclear Supplier’s Group. Parrikar’s strenuous, but late efforts claiming that these were his personal views do not hold water. Persons holding important offices should keep their personal views private and not bandy them at official functions.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Addressing the audience at a book release function, the defence minister expounded on India’s nuclear policy, saying that India should not bind itself to a no-first-use policy. “Why should I bind myself?” Parrikar asked.

India had announced a moratorium on nuclear testing shortly after conducting nuclear tests in 1998; the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had announced a no-first-use of nuclear weapons policy in 2003.

India’s nuclear policy has an important bearing on the Indo-Japan nuclear cooperation deal, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed on Friday. Japan has always stressed on a nullification clause in the nuclear agreement, which states that Japan would nullify the agreement if India were to conduct further nuclear tests.

On its part, India always cited its “unilateral moratorium” on nuclear testing to counter the Japanese demand. It had urged Japan to accept the declaration in the same way as other countries have done in their nuclear cooperation agreements with India. Indian and Japanese negotiators have been working to devise a way around this impediment by conveying the same sentiment in more acceptable phraseology.

Not just that, India’s case for admission to the Nuclear Supplier’s Group is based on its record as a responsible nuclear power. Being a non-signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), India holds that its “no-first-use” of nuclear weapons policy meets the same purpose. Under the no-first-use policy, India declared that it would not use nuclear weapons unless attacked with nuclear weapons.

Indians have often assumed an air of superiority when Pakistani leaders have spoken of using nuclear weapons, including tactical battlefield weapons. Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf had asked “what do we have nuclear weapons for?” in a television interview. Parrikar’s remarks are in a similar vein. A defence minister should have a greater understanding of the implications of stated government policy.

Parrikar is known to put his foot in his mouth quite regularly. He had once referred to the Bharatiya Janata Party patriarch, LK Advani as “rancid pickle” during the tussle for supremacy in the party. The former Goa chief minister is not fluent in Hindi as he often proclaims during his speeches, but it is his thoughts and “personal opinions” that are more bothersome than his grammatical errors.

The IIT-Mumbai trained Minister was roundly criticised for his gratuitous insult to the Indian Army as he tried to appropriate the credit for the surgical strikes. In his first remarks after the Indian Army’s surgical strikes along the Line of Control, the defence minister likened the army to Hanuman, who needed to be reminded of his extraordinary powers by Jamwant. The Minister had said that the “Indian troops were like Hanuman who did not quite know their prowess before the surgical strikes”.

The NDA government has a record number of gabby ministers who like to spout off on their pet peeves or are quick to get into controversy through instant tweets or off-hand remarks. Prime Minister Modi was forced to caution his ministers and senior BJP leaders not to speak out of turn and indulge in chest-thumping in their comments after the Indian Army’s action along the LoC. On more than one occasion, Modi has indicated to his council of ministers that he wants them to stay away from controversies, stick to their own subjects and concentrate on their work. But, verily, someone should tell Parrikar to stick to his brief.

First Published On : Nov 11, 2016 19:15 IST

Delhi pollution problem will be solved, real problem is political pollution: Manohar Parrikar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Responding to the ongoing politics over the constant ceasefire violations by Pakistan, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday said that the real problem of Delhi is not air pollution but “political pollution”.”The Indian army is giving a befitting reply and I have no doubts on it. But every person has different views in the country. The pollution of Delhi is not a problem, it will be solved. But the real problem is political pollution,” said Parrikar.Earlier on Tuesday, Pakistani Rangers again resorted to heavy shelling and gunning at Jammu and Kashmir’s Nowshera Sector. No casualty or injuries have been reported so far even as the security forces are aptly matching to their counterparts’ firing.On Monday, the Pakistan Army violated ceasefire and resorted to unprovoked firing in Mendhar Sector, Jammu and Kashmir, to which the Indian troops gave a befitting reply. This is the 101st incident of ceasefire violation by Pakistan, following India’s surgical strike across the Line of Control (LoC) on September 29. No casualties have been reported on the Indian side till last reports came in.

Make in India push: Parrikar okays defence projects worth Rs 83,000 cr, new blacklisting policy

The Defence Ministry on Monday cleared a new blacklisting policy that will do away with blanket bans on companies indulging in corrupt acts and approved projects worth over INR 82,000 crore for purchase of fighter aircraft, tanks, rockets and mini drones

Contrary to expectation, the Defence Acquisition Council, chaired by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, did not take a decision on the Navy’s proposal to purchase 12 US2I amphibious aircraft from Japan, though the issue came up for discussion.

However, it is expected that there would be some forward movement on this issue during Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s upcoming visit to Tokyo on November 11-12.

Manohar Parrikar. PTI file photoManohar Parrikar. PTI file photo

Manohar Parrikar. PTI file photo

The DAC also gave Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) to Indian Air Force’s plan to purchase 83 Tejas Mark 1A aircraft at a cost of INR 50,025 crore, Defence Ministry sources said.

It also accorded AON for the purchase of 15 Light Combat Aircraft being manufactured by HAL for the Army and Air Force for a tentative cost of about Rs 2,911 crore.

AoN was also given for the repeat order of 464 Russian origin T90 tanks which are being manufactured by the Ordnance Factory Board for Rs 13,448 crore, besides for procurement of 598 mini UAVs at a cost of Rs 1,100 crore.

However, the most significant take away from the DAC is the clearance of the new blacklisting policy.

Though Defence Ministry officials remained tight-lipped about the features of the new policy, maintaining it will be put up on website in the next few days, sources said it will ensure that while companies are dealt with harshly, it will not affect the modernisation process.

As per the new policy, the focus is on graded blacklisting and fines. This means that if a defence conglomerate is caught doing wrong in a particular project, it will be banned for a specific number of years from dealing in that particular segment only.

It can continue to pitch for projects in other segments.

“It will be a product-specific ban rather than blanket blacklisting. Also, there will be an option for heavy penalties besides those in contract and even individuals can be banned,” a source said.

The new policy would also allow many of the stuck programmes, like the heavy weight torpedos for the six Scorpene submarines, to move ahead with clarity.

Special status cannot be given to Goa: CM Laxmikant Parsekar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar on Monday ruled out the possibility of the state getting a special category status.”Special status cannot be given to Goa as the state tops in all the fronts,” Parsekar said addressing the party’s women’s convention in Panaji.”Special status is given to those states which have remained backwards,” he said. Notably, the BJP had in its 2012 election manifesto promised special status to the state. Goa has been demanding a special status to preserve its culture and heritage as against the financial powers (through special status) sought by other states. Earlier, the then Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had even decided to lead an all-party delegation to Delhi demanding special status to the state.Meanwhile, Parsekar on Monday rubbished the allegations against his government of harbouring the casino culture. “All the six casinos in river Mandovi are a gift to Goa from the erstwhile Congress government. Our government has not given any permission to casinos,” he said.

OROP death: Sack undeserving Parrikar, says Congress leader

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Criticising Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar for saying that 95% of ex-servicemen have already got the benefits of the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme, the Congress party on Sunday said he did not deserve to be in the union cabinet.”How does he (Parrikar) explain that for more than 500 days, ex-servicemen are camping in Delhi and agitating against the non implementation of one rank one pension? Mr. Manohar Parrikar does not deserve to be the defense minister,” Congress leader Om Prakash Mishra told ANI.He said, “He (Parrikar) does not know the difference between salary enhancement and the implementation of what is OROP that is a principal matter and that matter is yet unsettled and that is why we have seen the unfortunate death of Ram Kishan Grewal.”Parrikar claimed yesterday that only one lakh ex-servicemen (out of over 20 lakh) are not getting pension as per OROP scheme due to some technical difficulty or documentation problems, which will be resolved another couple of months.

95% have benefited from OROP, remaining issues will be resolved in next two months: Manohar Parrikar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said 95 per cent of retired defence personnel have benefited from the implementation of the One Rank, One Pension (OROP) scheme and problems being faced by the remaining 5 per per cent will be resolved in the next two months.The comments by Parrikar came against the backdrop of a row over suicide by an ex-serviceman from Haryana over the OROP issue and amid the ongoing war of words between ruling BJP and Opposition parties, including Congress.”More than 95 per cent people (ex-servicemen) are benefiting from (enhanced) pension after the implementation of One Rank One Pension. There are only 4-5 per cent who are facing difficulties in getting their pensions (as per OROP). “Most of these are old ex-servicemen, including veterans from 1962 and 1971 wars, whose records are untraceable,” Parrikar told reporters here. “Since their records are old, the Pension Department does not have them. The most important record for pension is the years of service put in by veterans. That is not available. These are old pensioners. In many cases, their families are getting the pension,” the Minister said.Parrikar said he has given special instructions to officials concerned to get the records within a month and if required, they (beneficiaries) will be asked to file affidavit. Problems being faced by them will be resolved in the next two months, he said, adding there is no discontent among the ex-servicemen over the pension issue. “I have held meetings with the ex-servicemen associations which have said they are happy with the (OROP) implementation.”Replying to a question, Parrikar said, “Only those ex-servicemen who have joined politics are now acting like politicians.” Earlier, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju on Saturday said that while raising questions is legitimate in a democracy, but pointing fingers at the Centre is unacceptable.‘Police has its own way of investigation and ministers cannot guide them on how to do their work. We should not complicate the matter. This incident in which the ex-serviceman committed suicide is really a tragedy,’ Rijiju told the media.‘If someone dies, it is always sad. And, there is a certain limit to politicising an issue. Every issue cannot be political and we cannot see everything in terms of votebank. If a soldier or commoner dies, it is sad, but raising fingers at the Centre for not implementing OROP is not good,’ he added.Grewal, a former army soldier had come to the national capital to protest against the government’s alleged backtracking on the implementation of the OROP scheme.The 69-year-old consumed poison even as he and four others accompanying him were waiting to meet Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to submit a memorandum reiterating.

Orop issue: Congress should note that the Modi govt did much more for veterans than UPA

With a section of the retired military personnel attacking the Modi government over pension anomalies vis a vis their civilian counterparts (this has seen the unfortunate incident of an alleged suicide by a retired soldier in Haryana) and with politicians starting to use them as weapons against their opponents, the issue of One Rank One Pension (Orop) is proving to be quite ominous from the point of view of the overall civilian-military relationship in the country. And this is an irony as the history of the Orop agitation suggests that the Modi government has been the most sympathetic to over 20 lakh ex-servicemen (ESM) and about six lakh war widows.

Of course, as defence minister Manohar Parrikar has told The Indian Express, the Orop process will take two more months to be fully completed. “Within 18 months, we resolved the 43-year-old OROP issue to high satisfaction levels, and all pending issues will be resolved shortly,” he said, adding, “Most of the pending issues have been inherited by this government. Barring the disability pension, most other issues have their origin in the Sixth Pay Commission, which we are committed to resolve. It is inappropriate to allow vested interest groups to deliberately build a narrative that is factually baseless and devoid of merit.”

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

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

And it seems the majority of the ESM community is satisfied with the Orop scheme announced by the Modi government, if one goes by a report of The Times of India. In fact, in his address on Thursday to Army veterans in Budgam, Jammu and Kashmir, Parrikar said, “Only one lakh ex-servicemen are not getting pensions as per the Orop scheme due to some technical difficulty or documentation problems. We will resolve them in the coming two months.”

It may be noted that the Modi government officially notified on 7 November, 2015 the implementation of the Orop scheme – equal pension for equal number of years in the service in the same rank. Orop was to be implemented with effect from 1 July, 2014, fixed on the basis of the calendar year 2013, though the veterans wanted the year to be 2014. Arrears will be paid in four half-yearly instalments, but all widows, including war widows, would be paid arrears in one instalment. The pension has been re-fixed for all pensioners as the average of minimum and maximum pension in 2013. Those drawing pensions above the average will be protected.

The annual expenditure on the Orop scheme has been estimated at around Rs 7, 500 crore. The arrears from 1 July, 2014 — the date of implementation as announced by the government — till 31 December, 2015, will be approximately Rs 10,900 crore. This has pushed the defence budget for pensions from Rs 54, 000 crore to around Rs 65, 000 crore. This is an increase of about 20 percent of the defence pension outlay.

Under the Orop scheme, the gap between the rate of pension of current pensioners and past pensioners will be bridged every 5 years. Although the veterans have been demanding equalisation of pension every year, the government went for a compromise of every five years, as against the present system of pay revisions for all the government servants every 10th year. It is said that this compromise is not for the monetary implications (which will not be much) but for administrative difficulties. Revising every year will prove very cumbersome and complicated.

However, the government’s Orop measures have failed to satisfy a section of the veterans, who are increasingly politicising what was once a genuine agitation by hobnobbing with opposition leaders like Derek O’Brian, Rahul Gandhi, Capt Amarinder Singh, Brinda Karat and Arvind Kejriwal. This is rather strange since the differences between the notification and demands are very minor. And here too, the government is open to rectify anomalies, if any, arising out of implementation of Orop, through a Judicial Committee, which, headed by a Supreme Court judge.

It may be noted that the veterans were receiving Orop until 1971, the year when the Indira Gandhi government cut down military pension from 70 percent of the last pay drawn to 50 percent of the last pay drawn and increased – simultaneously – the pension of the civil servants from 30 percent of the last pay to 50 percent. Since then, it has so happened that every central government has downgraded the military in pay, perks and status, compared to the civilian bureaucrats. One such principle has been the “non-functional upgradation” (NFU) for the bureaucracy. The NFU means that when an Indian Administrative Service or Indian Foreign Service officer (the topmost civil service in the country) is promoted to a certain rank (say joint secretary), all his or her batch mates from Group ‘A’ central services automatically start drawing the pay scale of joint secretary two years after his or her promotion. This continues all the way up the line.

The same does not apply to the military, which is a highly pyramidal structure, with 60 percent retiring by 40 years of age, another 20 percent retiring at the age of 54, 19 per cent retiring at the age of 60 and one percent (those who become Chiefs of their respective services) getting additional two years. In contrast, 99.9 percent civilian bureaucrats retire at the age of 60 only.

Of course, it is a huge myth that the Orop did not exist at all in our armed forces and that Orop existed for all civilians.

The Orop was there for all those, whether in civil service or in the military, who reached their super-time scales (the basic of Rs 80000 per month and above). The secretary rank in civil service, Lt Generals and their equivalents in commander ranks in the military do get the Orop after their retirement. But then, given the fact that most in the military retire much earlier than 60 years of age, the Orop demand was very much legitimate, particularly when it was abruptly ended by the then Congress government, that too after the military gave the country a splendid victory in the 1971 war. Since then, the veterans have been fighting for this injustice to be rectified.

When defence minister Manohar Parrikar announced the Orop scheme on 5 September, 2015, there was a little confusion over whether personnel who retire voluntarily will be covered under the Orop scheme. But subsequently, both the prime minister and defence minister clarified separately that everyone who retires early (because of injury, illness, lack of further promotions or family compulsion after serving the mandatory tenure – 15 years for Jawans, 20 years for officers) will get benefit of Orop.

Yes, there are still some little irritants, which the constituted judicial committee will look into. If still dissatisfied, the veterans can always to go higher courts. But these are not the issues over which one can continue to issue threats to the government and politicise the movement. All told, it is the Modi government that implemented its poll promise within 15 months of coming into office of implementing the Orop, something the agitators have not appreciated enough. Here, one may quote Independent Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar, a parliamentarian who has been at the forefront for the Orop demand, the day the government announced the OROP scheme.

According to him, “The announcement of One Rank, One Pension (Orop) by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is the culmination of 40 years of wait by the Veterans and Widows. It is our country’s thanksgiving to them for decades of service and sacrifice. This decision makes Orop the biggest and most significant welfare measure for veterans in Post-Independent India by any Government and for that I thank Prime Minister Modi, Defence Minister Parrikar and Finance Minister Jaitley and the Government for the fulfilling this important promise. For me personally, today’s announcement marks 9 years of struggle and perseverance on Orop — starting with the dark days of proud veterans giving up their medals in 2006. Orop was one of the first issues I took up after I joined active politics—and expectedly today is a big day for me personally and for my time in public service. Apart from raising it repeatedly in Parliament and media to the point that I was even called ‘Orop Rajeev’ by many political leaders. I have also had the honour of sitting with veterans in many protests in Bengaluru and Delhi, including at Jantar Mantar.”

Take another gentleman, Bhagat Singh Koshyari, former Uttarakhand chief minister. The very definition of the Orop was devised by a parliamentary committee that was headed by him in 2011. And what does he say about the ongoing agitation? “Maybe some in the agitation are thinking just because the government is listening to them, they should squeeze out as much as possible. Greed may be playing a part. I can’t rule out that there may be political motivations to this issue as well.” He wonders how one did not see any protests against a party that ruled for six decades almost but the protesters upped the ante when the Modi government was barely a year old.

It is worth seeing the record of the Manmohan Singh government with regard to the issue of Orop. Based on the Koshyari Committee’s report, the government arrived at a figure of Rs 1300 crore required to pay the arrears for Orop in 2011-12. In 2013-14, the government enhanced the amount to Rs 1573 crore. P Chidambaram, the then finance minister, in his interim budget speech on 17 February 2014, granted a measly Rs 500 crore (based on the estimate of Rs 1573 crore) for the year 2014-15.

It is obvious that the UPA government made a half-hearted attempt to woo the veterans, that too just on the eve of the 2014 elections. Otherwise, how can one explain the Manmohan Singh government’s calculation that the Orop would cost between Rs 1,000 to 1600 crore? Therefore, it is sheer dishonesty when Congress leaders like Rahul Gandhi and AK Antony say that it is “we who accepted the principle of Orop and NDA is only implementing it.”

Parrikar asks army to help in reopening schools in Kashmir

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On the day when miscreants made an abortive bid to torch the historic Sri Pratap (SP) College, defence minister Manohar Parrikar asked the army to chip in to help in restoring education even as the J&K Board of School Education (JKBOSE) announced to conduct the exams on time albeit with 50 per cent relaxation in the syllabus.This comes at a time when police arrested five more stone throwers-cum-arsonists for torching the government school in north Kashmir township of Pattan in Baramulla district.Unknown miscreants on Thursday made an unsuccessful bid to torch 111 year old SP College when they entered the Botany block from the rear side and lit the fire. However the watchman immediately swung into action and extinguished the flames before it could engulf the whole building. Except the window, there was no damage to the college complex.”Some people are hurting Kashmiryat and burning the schools to destroy the future of the children of the Kashmir valley. Schools are the most important place. Wealth can end but the knowledge will always stay in your mind. I have told the army officers to help, and I feel there should be some pressure from the villages as well (to save the schools). If it happens this state will prosper,” said Parrikar.On the other side, JKBOSE, while overruling the pressure from separatists and some student groups, finally decided to go ahead with the exams for class X and XII scheduled to be held from November 15 and November 14 respectively.”The main aim to conduct examinations in current month is to save the academic year of the students. In view of prevailing circumstances in the valley, JKBOSE had formulated an assessment scheme in question papers in which papers have been set in way as to provide relaxation in the syllabus,” said Zahoor Ahmad Chatt, Chairman, JKBOSE.For the last few months the students have been taking to the streets demanding deferring of the exams.

SBI error in OROP death? Rahul, Kejriwal look to corner Modi govt; protest rocks capital

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The alleged suicide of an ex-armyman, in protest over the One Rank, One Pension (OROP) issue, has stirred up a political slugfest across the Capital. Police sources say that the deceased, identified as 69-year-old Ram Kishan Grewal, drank poison in a park near Jantar Mantar on Tuesday afternoon.They add that they got a call around 1.30 pm on Tuesday and a PCR team reached the spot and took him to the hospital. Pirthi Singh and Jagdish Rai, friends of the deceased, said that Grewal had come to Delhi to meet Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on the OROP issue.Defence ministry sources say that Grewal was one of the beneficiaries of the revised pension scheme but received a lesser amount owing to miscalculation by the SBI branch in Bhiwani district of Haryana.Officials added that the matter was being looked into. Contradicting Grerwal’s friends’ version, Defence ministry officials clarified that he did not seek an appointment with Parrikar either at his home or office.But Opposition parties saw it as a perfect issue to corner the government. As a result, New Delhi district became a political battleground with Opposition leaders making all efforts to capitalise on the issue. Because of the political interest, Delhi Police had to suddenly rush towards the district, especially Lady Hardinge hospital, where Grewal’s body was being kept.Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, and other leaders were detained as they tried to visit the hospital. “Till Tuesday, no leader contacted any relative, but since Wednesday morning, various leaders of AAP and Congress have made a queue to meet Ram Kishan’s family,” Rai said.Despite not being allowed to meet the dead soldier, some analysts believe that the Congress has able to make successful political capital. Just a few days ago, Rahul Gandhi had written a two-page letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi raising the OROP issue and sharing his concerns over certain government decisions that were “adversely affecting the morale of the Armed Forces”.Again on Wednesday, Rahul and Kejriwal were able to hog headlines as they expressed annoyance over Union minister General VK Singh’s statement. Singh courted controversy when he said the “mental state of Grewal needed to be probed before one could draw conclusions about his extreme action.”Countering Singh, Congress Chief Spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjeewala said it was “unbecoming” of a former army chief to bring the mental state of a deceased veteran into question.The Centre, has implemented OROP — a demand which had been pending for decades — last year. They had also appointed a committee then under the Chairmanship of Justice L Narasimha Reddy, retired Chief Justice of the Patna High Court, to look into the anomalies, if any, arising out of the implementation of OROP.The committee has submitted its report, which the Defence ministry is currently studying, and government sources say a decision is likely soon.Despite the Centre’s contention that it has fulfilled the Forces’ demands by implementing OROP, ex-servicemen continue to protest the government decision, saying that four of their primary conditions had not been met.

Army veteran’s suicide: Opposition leaders detained and later released, Kejriwal calls it ‘Emergency’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The suicide by an army veteran over OROP on Wednesday snowballed into a huge political show with Rahul Gandhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and other opposition leaders attacking the Modi government on the issue while there was high drama after police detained and prevented them from entering a hospital.The Congress Vice President was detained twice and was finally released late in the evening as restrictions were put on Kejriwal’s movements before he was briefly detained. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia was kept in custody for close to 10 hours. The leaders were detained when they tried to meet the family of Ram Kishan Grewal, 70, an ex-serviceman who ended his life on Tuesday by consuming poison on the lawns of a government building at Janpath in the heart of the national capital.In a scathing attack on the Modi government, Rahul said the Delhi police’s action was symbolic of “undemocratic” mentality of the NDA dispensation, while Kejriwal called the situation worse than Emergency and accused the Prime Minister of being guilty of “deceit” and indulging in “lies” over the One Rank-One Pension(OROP) issue.Twelve family members of the deceased, including his son Jaswant, were detained and some of them alleged that they were thrashed and abused by police when they came out of RML hospital to meet Rahul. Grewal’s body was kept at RML.The Congress and AAP leaders also accused the Modi government of being responsible for the death of Grewal, a resident of Haryana’s Bhiwani district who consumed poison on the lawns of a government building in Janpath, and demanded that Modi government apologise to the bereaved family.The Congress alleged that the Delhi police unleashed “naked hooliganism” on the opposition leaders. Several Congress leaders including Randeep Surjewala, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kumari Selja were detained while police was seen dragging scores of AAP workers and many office bearers outside the Parliament Street Police station. “The least this government can do is to apologise to the family of the deceased soldier for making them suffer,” an angry Rahul told reporters after being finally released.The Congress and AAP leaders called the police action an “assault on democracy and fundamental rights” while calling the treatment meted out to the grieving family as “utterly shameful” and “unprecedented. The BJP on its part accused the Congress and AAP of playing politics over the suicide. “A martyr’s family is arrested. This is Modi ji’s India,” Rahul told reporters outside RML Hospital from where he was detained. “How can you arrest the son and father of martyr? And if you have not arrested them, then why are you not letting them go,” he said after his request for releasing Grewal’s family members was turned down.”A new India is in the making, you have to identify it. What is happening in India today, you have to identify it. It is a result of their mentality. It is a particular type of mentality. It is an undemocratic type of mentality.” Kejriwal, who was detained outside Lady Hardinge hospital in central Delhi where Grewal’s body was taken for post mortem, called the situation “worse than Emergency”.A number of AAP leaders including Delhi Minister Gopal Rai were also detained. “This is worse than Emergency,” the Delhi chief minister told reporters before being taken away, while Sisodia tweeted, “This is Emergency”.Tearing into Prime Minister Modi, Kejriwal asserted that Grewal’s “martyrdom will not go in vain” and emphasised on the need to take his struggle forward. “The Prime Minister is lying to the entire country claiming that OROP has been implemented. If it was implemented then why Ram Kishan had to commit suicide? The extent of the deceit of the BJP government over the issue is unprecedented.” Surjewala called the police action “naked goondaism by Modi Government” adding, Rahul has been arrested along with sons of Grewal.Holding the Modi government responsible for the suicide of Grewal, Congress leader AK Antony and Surjewala demanded that Prime Minister apologise to the nation and the armed forces for “misleading them” that OROP has been implemented. “The present government is responsible for this suicide. Modi government, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister, is talking for last one year that they have implemented OROP fully, but have not yet done so. They have diluted the OROP as implemented by UPA,” Antony said.The Delhi Chief Minister expressed shock over police action, saying he has every right to meet the family in his capacity as CM. “Why Delhi Chief Minister is being illegally stopped from meeting a grieving family? This is unprecedented. The PM should apologise for deceiving the soldiers over OROP.”Rahul was initially detained for around 70 minutes in the afternoon at the Mandir Marg police station and, later in the evening, was again taken into custody along with many other party leaders at the Parliament Street Police station.Kejriwal also attacked the Centre over issue of surgical strikes and the recent controversies on ‘downgrading’ of military ranks and the ‘cuts’ in disability pension of defence personnel. Grewal, who the Defence Ministry sources said was receiving OROP but a lesser amount due to an error in calculating the pension by the bank, left behind a suicide note, according to his son.Police said he along with three of his companions had come to the city apparently to submit a memorandum to the Defence Ministry over the issue of OROP. However, Defence Ministry sources said as per records, no request for appointment with Parrikar was made. Grewal allegedly consumed poison on the lawns behind a government building at Janpath, the central area of the capital.Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said he was saddened by the death of Grewal. “Saddened by the death of subedar Ram Kishen Grewal. I express my heartfelt condolences. I have asked officials to provide me with details,” Parrikar said in a tweet.Amid the protests by opposition parties, Union Minister VK Singh triggered a controversy when he said the “mental state” of Grewal needs to be probed before drawing conclusions about his extreme action. “He has committed suicide. No one knows the reason behind it. OROP is being shown as the reason. What his mental state was we do not know. Let it be probed first. OROP should be kept above politics,” Singh told reporters, while reacting to the incident.Singh went on to state that the Centre had accepted the long-pending demands of the agitating veterans and there was no need to get into “what one is saying for 4 paisa.” Singh’s comments drew sharp reactions from Kejriwal and the Congress. “Shame on u VKSingh. He twice got medals from President and once from COAS. He was a decorated soldier,” Kejriwal tweeted.According to his friends, Grewal, who served in the Army and the Defence Security Corps for 30 years, had been upset over the issue for some time. Surjewala alleged that the family members of the deceased were beaten up and abused in the most filthy language. “Modi Govt beats up family of Subedar Ramkishan Grewal, abuse hurled, dragged on the floor! Is this justice for soldiers Modiji?” he said as all top leaders of Congress hit the street demanding justice for the soldiers.Kejriwal said it was “very sad” to see that soldiers have to fight against external enemy along the border and “within” for their rights. A group of ex-servicemen led by Major General Satbir Singh (Retd) has been protesting against the OROP scheme introduced by the government.He is now an adviser to a new political party, Fauji Janta Party, which will fight the upcoming Punjab Assembly polls. The alleged suicide came just days after a one-man judicial committee on OROP submitted its report to Parrikar. The Centre, which has implemented the OROP, a demand pending for decades, had appointed the committee under the retired Chief Justice of Patna High Court L Narasimha Reddy to look into the anomalies, if any, arising out of implementation of OROP. The Ministry is currently studying the report and sources had said it will take a decision soon.

Ram Kishan Grewal got OROP, received less amount due to bank error: Defence Ministry

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ex-serviceman Ram Kishan Grewal, who allegedly committed suicide over OROP, was one of the recipients of benefits under the revised pension scheme, Defence Ministry sources said on Wednesday as his death sent political temperature soaring in the national capital. However, Ministry sources said Grewal had received a lesser amount as part of the One Rank-One Pension scheme under the 6th pay commission due to an error in calculation by the SBI bank branch in Bhiwani district of Haryana, a matter which was being looked into.They said the deceased former soldier had not sought an appointment with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar either at his office or home. Meanwhile, Parrikar asserted on Wednesday the government was committed to the welfare of ex-servicemen and said a total of Rs 5,507.47 crore has been disbursed under the scheme.Giving details of the OROP implementation so far, Parrikar said there were 20,63,763 beneficiaries before July 2014. He said 19,12,520 pensioners have been paid the first instalment and 1,50,313 cases are pending verification and authentication of beneficiaries.
ALSO READ Delhi: Ex-serviceman Ram Kishan Grewal allegedly commits suicide over OROP issueTweeting the details of the OROP, Parrikar said Rs 3886.88 crore had been disbursed as the first instalment. He said 11,33,100 people have received the second instalment of Rs 1,604.59 crore has been disbursed. “Government is committed to ex-servicemen’s welfare,” he said.Meanwhile, the group of ex-servicemen, which has been leading the protest at Jantar Mantar over OROP, distanced itself from Grewal’s suicide and said the issue should not be politicised.They also said all politicians, including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who has tweeted on the issue, should stay away and the government should sort out the OROP “mess”. “The suicide did not take place at Jantar Mantar. His friends had informed the police about the suicide bid but it was too late. He was taken to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital from where they wanted to bring the body to Jantar Mantar, which we refused,” Col Anil Kaul (Retd), media advisor to United Front of Ex-Servicemen Movement (UFESM), said. He said the group did not believe in violence.

OROP issue LIVE: Rahul Gandhi released, Rajnath Singh says cops doing their duty

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An ex-serviceman allegedly committed suicide by consuming poison over the issue of One Rank One Pension scheme (OROP) in New Delhi.

The 70-year-old ex-serviceman Ram Kishan Grewal from Haryana’s Bhiwani district ended his life in the lawns behind the Jawahar Bhavan, which houses the Ministry of External Affairs, on Tuesday evening.

Representational image. Firstpost

Representational image. Firstpost

Police said he along with three of his companions had come to the city apparently to submit a memorandum to the Defence Ministry over the issue of OROP.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said he was saddened over the death of Grewal.

“Saddened by the death of subedar Ram Kishen Grewal. I express my heartfelt condolences. I have asked officials to provide me with details,” Parrikar said in a tweet.

According to his friends, Grewal, who served in the Army and the Defence Security Corps for 30 years, had been upset over the issue for sometime.

Defence Ministry sources said as per records, no request for appointment with Parrikar was made.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the suicide of an ex-serviceman here, saying both farmers and soldiers were ending their lives in his regime.

Kejriwal, a bitter critic of Modi, also alleged that the Prime Minister was “lying” that the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme was being implemented by the Centre, contending that ex-serviceman, Ram Kishan Grewal, would not have committed suicide if the scheme was being executed by the Centre.

A group of ex-servicemen led by Major General Satbir Singh (Retd) have been protesting against the OROP scheme introduced by the government.

He is now an advisor to a new political party, Fauji Janta Party, which will fight in the upcoming Punjab Assembly Polls.

The alleged suicide came just days after a one-man judicial committee on OROP submitted its report to Parrikar.

The Centre, which has implemented the OROP, a demand which had been pending for decades, had appointed the committee under the Chairmanship of Justice L Narasimha Reddy, retired Chief Justice of Patna High Court to look into the anomalies, if any, arising out of implementation of OROP.

The Ministry is currently studying the report and sources had said it will take a decision soon.

The ex-serviceman have been holding protests at Jantar Mantar, Delhi’s designated site for protests, to demand changes in OROP. Protesters say four of their primary conditions have not been met by the government.

The main demands are revision of pension every year rather than the five years as decided by the government and OROP being extended to pre-mature retirees.

Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar said he is anguished by the suicide of Grewal of 105 Infantry Btn (TA) and DSC.

“He died at Jantar Mantar where veterans have protested in the past and some continue to protest despite my calls to call off the protest. My deepest condolences to his family and his friends,” he said in a statement.

The MP urged Parrikar to urgently resolve the outstanding issues/anomalies of OROP and also the 7th Central Pay Commission that continue to agitate and worry those serving and the veterans.

“I urge him, as I have done repeatedly, to involve direct representation from the armed forces in resolving these issues and not leave it only to the bureaucrats and to do so urgently,” he said.

With inputs from PTI

Jammu: Amid continuous Pak shelling, govt orders closure of 174 schools

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Following the continuous shelling from Pakistan which has resulted in the loss of lives, the Government has ordered the shutting down of 174 schools along the International Border and Line of Control in Jammu region.84 schools have been closed in Balakot zone in Poonch and 45 schools in Samba district. Over 25 schools have been gutted in the Valley in the last three months since the unrest broke out after Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Burhan Wani’s killing by Indian security forces.Earlier today, the state’s High Court stepped in and asked the government to protect the schools in the Valley which are under attack. The High Court took “suo moto cognizance” or acted of its own accord to order the state government to take preventive measures. The court also directed the police and administration to ensure protection of schools besides unmasking those responsible.Meanwhile in the wake of the continuous ceasefire violations and firing from Pakistan, Home Minister Rajnath Singh called a high level meeting, in which Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval and other senior MHA officials were present. The Border Security Force (BSF) today targeted around 14 Pakistan posts along the International Border (IB) in response to the unprovoked firing and shelling of Pakistan Rangers in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ramgarh and Arnia Sector since morning.

Army snubs Thackeray: We don’t accept forced donations

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Giving a thumbs down to Maharashtra politician Raj Thackeray’s diktat asking film producers employing Pakistani actors to pay Rs5 core to the army welfare fund, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar made it clear that donations cannot be forced upon anyone.Parrikar’s remarks came after MNS chief Raj Thackeray allowed the release of Karan Johar’s film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. The film got a go-ahead after its producers accepted three conditions put forward by the MNS chief, which included the payment of Rs5 crore to the Army Welfare Fund.The Defence Minister said on Tuesday that all donations to the army were voluntary. “The concept is voluntary donation and not for catching the neck of someone. We don’t appreciate that,” Parrikar told reporters on the sidelines of the Naval Commanders Conference in the Capital.The Army has shown its displeasure for being dragged into a political row over the film featuring Pakistani actor Fawad Khan. As a result, officers have not taken to the idea floated by Thackeray.”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 said.Defence ministry sources also said even though the amount in the newly created Battle Casualty Fund is not very high but there has been a steady increase.”It started in June and the amount has been increasing each month,” said a senior defence ministry official.The Defence Minister said the concept behind the 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 the 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 added that the Ministry is formulating a scheme through which all the families of martyrs will be helped equally.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.

India, Russia to hold talks on closer military ties on Wednesday

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India and Russia will on Wednesday hold detailed discussions on deeper military cooperation, especially on joint production of fifth generation fighter aircraft, upgradation of Su-30 MKI planes and firming up the contract for the S400 Triumf air defence system.Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu will be arriving in New Delhi on Tuesday night and will co-chair a meeting of the Indo-Russian Inter Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGCMTC) here tomorrow with his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar. The two will have restricted meeting followed by delegation-level talks, defence sources said. It was during a meeting of the commission in Moscow last year that both sides had firmed up plans to acquire the air defence system and other deals which were recently signed on the sidelines of the BRICS meet in Goa.Sergei Chemezov, CEO of Rostec State Corporation, a Russian umbrella organisation of 700 hi-tech civilian and military firms, had told PTI that they expect the agreement on fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) to be finalise by this year end. After a hiatus of nearly a year, India and Russia had in February revived talks on the much delayed FGFA project after a clearance from Parrikar. Since then, a lot of issues related to work share, IPR and technology transfer among others have been sorted out between the two sides along with the monetary commitments.Under the new offer, India will have to pay about USD 3.7 billion, instead of USD 6 billion, for technological know-how and three prototypes of the fighters, the sources said. In 2010, India had agreed to pay USD 295 million towards the preliminary design of the fighter, called in India as Perspective Multi-role Fighter (PMF). The two sides are also expected to discuss the upgrade of SU-30 MKI, India”s front line fighter aircraft.Russia is also eyeing the multi-billion dollar deal for P75-I project of India under which six conventional submarines are to be built with Air Independent Propulsion systems.With deals over USD 12 billion in kitty this month, including leasing of a second nuclear submarine, Russia hopes to bag more projects as it termed itself as not just a business partner but an “ally” who stood by India in its “darkest hours”.

Manohar Parrikar to look into status downgrade vis-a-vis civilian counterparts

New Delhi: After crying foul over OROP and disability pension, officers in the armed forces are upset over a defence ministry circular which purportedly downgrades their status vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts, prompting Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to say he would personnaly look into it and resolve the issue.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTIDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

The order has brought an army Major General (rear admiral in the navy and vice-marshal in the air force) on par with a principal director at the Armed Force Headquarters (AFHQ) Civil Service. A Brigadier/Commodore/Air Commodore would be equal in status to a director, and a Colonel/Captain/Group Captain equivalent to a joint director in the civil service.

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

As per the new circular, a civilian principal director, who was earlier equivalent to a Brigadier, would now have the status of a two star general, a director rank officer to a Brigadier and a joint director to a Colonel, a development which has not gone down well with the armed forces. A Major General earlier had the rank of a joint secretary.

The circular says that the equations are to be followed at service HQs, and “has the approval of the Hon’ble Raksha Mantri” (defence minister).

Parrikar, when asked to comment on the development, said some people were trying to “misguide” as the issue related to only functional responsibility (of armed forces) and not status vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts.

“These are functional responsibilities. They (military officers) will be on the same platform as was done earlier. I will check up myself,” Parrikar told reporters on the sidelines of the naval commanders conference in New Delhi.

“First of all, these are only for functional responsibilities…this is not status….there are some people
who are trying to misguide,” he said.

The minister said he will take a look at all previous orders to see if there was any discrepancy.

Parrikar said he and the government were sensitive to the issues related to the armed forces.

“I can assure you that I am very sensitive to such issues. The moment they are brought out, I act on them. The
only difficulty is when it becomes public discussion, I cannot be party to discussion. I will resolve the issue,” he said.

Armed forces upset over status downgrade; Parrikar assures intervention

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After crying foul over OROP and disability pension, officers in the armed forces are upset over a Defence Ministry circular which purportedly downgrades their status vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts, prompting Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to say he would personally look into it and resolve the issue.The order has brought an army Major General (rear admiral in the navy and vice-marshal in the air force) on par with a principal director at the Armed Force Headquarters (AFHQ) Civil Service. A Brigadier/Commodore/Air Commodore would be equal in status to a director, and a Colonel/Captain/Group Captain equivalent to a joint director in the civil service. The circular issued by the Defence Ministry, dated October 18, on rank equivalence between defence officers and armed forces headquarters (AFHQ) civil service officers brings the rank of armed forces officers a notch down compared to their earlier status, officers said.As per the new circular, a civilian principal director, who was earlier equivalent to a Brigadier, would now have the status of a two star general, a director rank officer to a Brigadier and a joint director to a Colonel, a development which has not gone down well with the armed forces. A Major General earlier had the rank of a joint secretary. The circular says that the equations are to be followed at service HQs, and “has the approval of the Hon”ble Raksha Mantri” (defence minister).Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, when asked to comment on the development, said some people were trying to “misguide” as the issue related to only functional responsibility (of armed forces) and not status vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts. “These are functional responsibilities. They (military officers) will be on the same platform as was done earlier. I will check up myself,” Parrikar told reporters on the sidelines of the naval commanders conference here. “First of all, these are only for functional responsibilities…this is not status….there are some people who are trying to misguide,” he said. The Minister said he will take a look at all previous orders to see if there was any discrepancy.Parrikar said he and the government were sensitive to the issues related to the armed forces. “I can assure you that I am very sensitive to such issues. The moment they are brought out, I act on them. The only difficulty is when it becomes public discussion, I cannot be party to discussion. I will resolve the issue,” he said.

India, Russia to hold talks on deepening military cooperation on Wednesday

New Delhi: India and Russia will hold detailed discussions on Wednesday on deeper military cooperations, especially on joint production of fifth generation fighter aircraft, upgradation of Su-30 MKI planes and firming up the contract for the S400 Triumf air defence system.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu will be arriving in Delhi on Tuesday and will co-chair a meeting of the Indo-Russian Inter Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGCMTC) on Wednesday with his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar.

The two will have restricted meeting followed by delegation-level talks, defence sources said.

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

A file photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

It was during a meeting of the commission in Moscow last year that both sides had firmed up plans to acquire the air defence system and other deals which were recently signed on the sidelines of the Brics meet in Goa.

Sergei Chemezov, CEO of Rostec State Corporation, a Russian umbrella organisation of 700 hi-tech civilian and military firms, had told PTI that they expect the agreement on fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) to be finalise by this year end.

After a hiatus of nearly a year, India and Russia had in February revived talks on the much delayed FGFA project after a clearance from Parrikar.

Since then, a lot of issues related to work share, IPR and technology transfer among others have been sorted out between the two sides along with the monetary commitments.

Under the new offer, India will have to pay about USD 3.7 billion, instead of USD 6 billion, for technological know-how and three prototypes of the fighters, the sources said.

In 2010, India had agreed to pay USD 295 million towards the preliminary design of the fighter, called in India as Perspective Multi-role Fighter (PMF).

The two sides are also expected to discuss the upgrade of SU-30 MKI, India’s front line fighter aircraft.

Russia is also eyeing the multi-billion dollar deal for P75-I project of India under which six conventional submarines are to be built with Air Independent Propulsion systems.

With deals over USD 12 billion in kitty this month, including leasing of a second nuclear submarine, Russia hopes to bag more projects as it termed itself as not just a business partner but an “ally” who stood by India in its
“darkest hours”.

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.”

Donation to army voluntary: Manohar Parrikar on MNS diktat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday 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 army welfare fund. The army has been upset over being dragged into politics. “The concept is voluntary donation and not catching neck of someone. We don’t appreciate it,” Parrikar told reporters here on the sidelines of the naval commanders conference here. 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 role 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 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 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 ‘advises’ SAFRAN to set up manufacturing unit in Goa for Rafale

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar “advised” French firm SAFRAN on Sunday to set up a facility in his home state of Goa to manufacture small parts for the fighter aircraft Rafale, for which India recently signed a deal with France. “I would also advice you to take advantage of the off-set in Rafale deal. From my side I will put a word. You (SAFRAN) are supplying engines for Rafale. The off-set of Rafale deal is around Rs 30,000 crore. If you are interested in setting up a manufacturing facility of some small parts then you can do it in Goa,” Parrikar said during the inauguration of a joint venture between HAL and French firm SAFRAN in North Goa.He said Rs 1,000-1,500 crore of the total offset deal can be invested in Goa. “If that happens, Goa will provide technical support which is required for such activity,” he said.The Defence Minister also appealed state Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar for setting up courses for skill development in aeronautical engineering. Parrikar said Goa requires engineering industry. “Goans are in high tech jobs across India. Also a lot of talent is available locally,” he added.The Defence Minister also suggested that HAL should tie up with SAFRAN and get into manufacturing of engines. “We are going to require 6,000-10,000 engines in next ten years and most of them are SAFRAN engines,” he said. Parrikar said the Goa government is ready to provide land and other facilities required to set up an engine manufacturing plant.

Parrikar rejects Swaraj Abhiyan charge, terms Rafale best deal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>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. “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.

RSS men should guard borders instead of jawans: Cong MP mocks Parrikar’s comment

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking exception to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar giving credit of the army’s surgical strikes in PoK to RSS teachings, the Congress on Wednesday said if that was the case, RSS workers should be guarding the borders instead of the jawans.”The Defence Minister has given credit of the surgical strikes to RSS teachings instead of the army…if this army action was really an outcome of RSS teachings, then its activists should be deployed on the borders to guard the country instead of the jawans,” Congress observer of the Lucknow district unit of the party Husain Dalvi said.The Rajya Sabha MP said it would be better if the RSS activists, “indulging in divisive activities” in the country, faced the “enemy”. Dalvi criticised the Defence Minister saying in spite of holding a “sensitive” post, he was making such “frivolous” statements.Speaking at a programme in Ahmedabad on Monday, Parrikar had appeared to have given credit for the decision to carry out surgical strikes in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) to RSS teachings. Dalvi was confident about his party’s prospects in the upcoming Assembly election in Uttar Pradesh and said it would emerge as the “kingmaker” and no government will be formed without its “help”.The Congress leader dropped a hint of an alliance with the Janata Dal (United) and Peace Party for the polls but did not elaborate further. He claimed that the recently-concluded ‘Kisan Yatra’ of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had given a “new life” to the party and it had been strengthened further.

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