Saturday, May 29, 2010

Misuse of Military Uniforms

Do you agree that unauthorized wearing and misuse of Army Uniform is a big evil and promotes militancy?
The relevant text of some of the press reports from across the country depicting the dastardly acts of militants clad in Army uniform, the likes of which have been shaking up Armed Forces.

  • Militants in Army uniforms mowed down 25 villagers in Champanan. The act was repeated in Thakrai and Sarban villages near Kishtwar. Dressed in olive green Army uniforms, the ultras killed innocent villagers in cold blood. On its part, the administration had given several assurances that the recurrence of such incidents would be checked.

  • Once again, the militants used combat uniforms to gain entry into the residential area of the Army family quarters when they struck, killing 30 people and injuring another 50. When they boarded the Himachal Roadways bus near Vijaypur town early in the morning, all passengers took them to be bonafide Army personnel carrying weapons. As such, there was no reason for the passengers to panic. Later, when the militants asked the driver to stop near the Kalu Chak Army camp, he obliged thinking they had reached their unit area and wanted to get down. It was seconds later when they opened fire that the other passengers realized the gravity of the situation, but by then it was too late. The incident has highlighted the government’s failure to check the open and uncontrolled sale of cloth used for making Army uniforms in the markets throughout the region. Though district magistrates (DMs) of various districts have, from time to time, sought to check the sale of this cloth, their orders have remained mere words which were never enforced. The then Chief Minister, Mr Farooq Abdullah readily admitted the government’s failure to check the open sale of cloth used for making Army uniforms though it has been misused by the militants time and again. However, he said that henceforth, the government would pass such orders as would be strictly enforced and seek to punish the errant shopkeepers. The then Governor Girish Chander Saxena said going by the number of incidents in which militants wearing Army uniforms had carried out different types of attacks, it was imperative to ban the open sale of uniform cloth. Asked how such ban orders would be implemented when the government had failed to do so in the past, senior civil and police officials said if the government showed the will, they had the wherewithal to enforce the orders.

  • Stepping up violence, heavily-armed militants in military uniform stormed an Army camp killing seven jawans and injuring six others at Akhnoor.

  • One Brigadier and seven jawans were killed, and 12 injured when three militants in Army uniforms attacked an Army camp in Tanda, about 40km north of Jammu on the road to Poonch. The militants alighted from a vehicle and began firing at the security guards at the 610 EME Battalion Camp. They managed to enter deep inside the camp hurling grenades and opening indiscriminate fire, disguising themselves as Army personnel. The attack came less than 12 hours after an attack by Army uniform clad militants in Banganga near Katra in which six devotees were killed. The site is on the way to the Vaishno Devi shrine.

  • Just when reports in the media suggested that things were looking up in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K,) came a major suicide attack by Army uniform clad militants on an Army camp at Sanjwan near the state’s winter capital, Jammu. The attack came on the final day of the then President A P J Abdul Kalam’s visit to the region. Militants, dressed in Army uniforms, cut their way through fencing to enter the Army camp and then made their way to a barrack and shot dead about 12 sleeping Army personnel. The two militants were killed in the encounter that followed. A little-known group, the al-Nasireen, has claimed responsibility for the attack. Indian intelligence agencies, however, believe that the attack was masterminded by the Lashkar-e-Toiba and was made easy by the local shopkeepers selling various items of Army uniform.

    In our country, most of the Security Guards at Malls, Hotels and Restaurants, Corporate Houses, Factories and other public places attire themselves in uniform which comprises of a number of items of Army uniform, and wear it in such a shoddy manner that it brings an awful disrepute to the uniformed soldiers and truly disgraceful.

    Photographs, appearing in the newspapers, of the camps and hideouts of various militant groups disclose the rampant misuse of Army uniform by their cadres.

    School and college going children adorn themselves in combat trousers or combat vests, not realizing an iota of the sanctity attached to the fabric.

    Commercial film makers do the maximum damage. A comedian will attire himself in an Army uniform and conduct himself in such a disgraceful manner which certainly makes his character quite comic, but at a huge cost.

    The nation pays tribute to a soldier who gives the supreme sacrifice of his life for safeguarding its territorial integrity, by draping his mortal remains in the National Tricolour before being laid to rest. Then why is his uniform subjected to extreme indignity and humiliation – the uniform which is a matter of pride for him from the day he joins the Army, the uniform to which he gives the utmost regards all throughout his life and the uniform in which he fights, breathes his last and sleeps forever, for the tomorrow of the nation.

    We all as a nation need to take on the onerous responsibility of putting in concerted efforts to revive the respect and glory of the Army uniform. All the four estates of our democracy – the media, the legislature, the executive and the judiciary, along with the ever important support of the citizens, need to combine to take this noble step, which will have far reaching consequences towards creation of a better nation, a nation – we all will be proud of.

    Misuse of uniform attire is an area of major concern. Not only is it degrading the image of the Army and the Armed Forces in general, it is also a huge security risk, as anyone can manage to buy a uniform from the market. There are some steps that the government and police should institute to curb this menace. Sale of uniforms and other military material should be permitted only from authorized shops in the military cantonments. A rule should be legislated that forbids any civilian from wearing military uniforms and abusing them by putting the camouflage pattern cloth innate subjects such as suitcase covers. Anyone acting in contravention should be strictly dealt with by the law.

    Sec 171. It reads...
    171. Wearing garb or carrying token used by public servant with fraudulent intent. Whoever, not belonging to a certain class of public servants, wears any garb or carries any token resembling any garb or token used by that class of public servants, with the intention that it may be believed, or with the knowledge that it is likely to be believed, that he belongs to that class of public servants, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description, for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine which may extend to two hundred rupees, or with both

    For this section to hold, the Army (or any other agency) needs to prove that the Police have a fraudulent intention. The police can easily put up a counter claim that they are wearing Army style camoflouge pattern because it is required for their operational duties as well. Also the police officers are not asking for the regular "Army Uniform" type dress, which may give an impression that the officer is from the Army. Where as a camouflage pattern would just indicate that the wearer is from some armed unit (be it police, army etc.) They are asking for a type of dress which suits their operational needs. This section how ever is relevant to private security agencies (or criminal imposters), who are not a government establishment and also do not undertake any jobs which the police or other military organisations undertake.

    Sec 140 reads...
    Whoever, not being a soldier, 1[sailor or airman] in the Military, 2[Naval or Air] service of the 3[Government of India], wears any garb or carries any token resembling any garb or token used by such a soldier, 1[sailor or airman] with the intention that it may be believed that he is such a soldier

    The army here again would have to prove that the camouflage pattern is exclusively for Army personnel only. I do understand that if it is the case of the golden rank insignias, army cap badges, medal ribbons etc. this legal provision would hold good. Also here the Army needs to prove (the government officials, or court) that the police have a intention to claim that they are army men.
  • Indian fakes galore: Now a fake GOI Memorandum

    ‘Fake’ allowance hike order fools central govt employees
    Was it an April Fool prank or a case of an adventurous babu arbitrarily announcing increase in overtime allowances to please colleagues in central government offices?

    The case in question is that of a “fake” order being circulated in these offices on increasing allowances on the basis of a circular issued by the finance ministry on April 1 last.

    Although a high-level inquiry has been ordered by the finance ministry and the department of personnel and training (DoPT), no clue has yet been found on who was behind the mischief. The office memorandum number 1(4)/2010E-II dated 27/3/2010 was issued by the finance ministry with the signature of under secretary S Rajan Chandranaydu.

    “The case is being probed by senior officials. But nothing as yet has been found,” a DoPT official said. “The possibility of it being an April Fool prank is also being looked into. But even in such a case, the guilty could face the music,” he said.

    The official clarified that it had nothing to do with DoPT, which is the nodal department on such issues. “It pertains to the finance ministry and they are probing it,” he said.

    The issue came to the notice of DoPT after enthusiastic central government officials started seeking details of the hiked overtime allowances, such as the date from which they would become operative. Acting swiftly, DoPT got in touch with the finance ministry, only to discover that the order was fake.

    To set the record straight, DoPT issued a fresh office memorandum to clear doubts about the veracity of the order. “It is clarified that no such instruction has been issued by either DoPT or the finance ministry. The ministries and departments are advised not to take cognisance of the fake instructions being circulated in central government offices,” the office memorandum signed by DoPT director Simmi R Nakra said.
    Source: DNA India
    CG Staff News: Fake Office Memorandum from Government Ministries

  • We have heard about fake currencies under circulation.
  • We have heard fake and counterfeit Stamp Papers under circulation.
  • We have heard of indian art fakes.
  • We have heard of fake colleges and degrees.
  • We have heard of fake distilled water.
  • We have heard of fake Indian Doctors.
  • We have heard about life saving fake drugs.
  • We have heard of fake encounters to bump off criminals by police.
  • We have heard of fake Politicians taking the garb of Political criminals.
  • Not forgetting fake passports, fake ids, fake licences, fake land documents, fake registration and so forth.
  • Now for the first time “Fake Government Orders” under circulation.
    Government of India– Ministry of Finance Department of Expenditure– has issued an order stating that there had been a Fake Government Order enhancing the OT Rates from 1.1.2008 in the name of Department of Expenditure dated 27.03.2010– All are warned that no payment shall be made on the basis of the Fake Order!!
  • It is really funny that even Government Orders are being faked in this country!
    Are we heading towards...
  • A fake democracy?
  • Governance: Finance Minister to dedicate IT CPC to the Nation

    The Union Finance Minister, Shri Pranab Mukherjee will dedicate the Centralized Processing Centre (CPC) of the Income Tax department at Bengaluru to the nation today on 29th May 2010.

    The Income Tax department has set up the Centralized Processing Centre (CPC) at Bengaluru for bulk processing of income tax returns. The CPC will process all electronic tax returns of the entire country, and physical returns of Karnataka and Goa regions. It is equipped with a dedicated call centre, where taxpayers can enquire about the status of their returns and refunds, and also has a remote record storage unit, which would reduce congestion in the IT offices.

    The CPC is a flagship e-governance project of the Government of India. It promises to significantly improve delivery of citizen-centric services in line with best international practices. DSM/BY
    FM to Dedicate I-T Department’s CPC at Bengaluru to Nation

    US appoints first cyber warfare general

    Pentagon creates specialist online unit to counter cyber attack amid growing fears of militarisation of the internet
    Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor The Observer, Sunday 23 May 2010

    The Pentagon is channelling a growing volume of troops and resources into countering cyber warfare. Photograph: Mike Nelson/AFP/Getty Images

    The US military has appointed its first senior general to direct cyber warfare – despite fears that the move marks another stage in the militarisation of cyberspace.

    The newly promoted four-star general, Keith Alexander, takes charge of the Pentagon's ambitious and controversial new Cyber Command, designed to conduct virtual combat across the world's computer networks. He was appointed on Friday afternoon in a low-key ceremony at Fort Meade, in Maryland.

    The creation of America's most senior cyber warrior comes just days after the US air force disclosed that some 30,000 of its troops had been re-assigned from technical support "to the frontlines of cyber warfare".

    The creation of Cyber Command is in response to increasing anxiety over the vulnerability of the US's military and other networks to a cyber attack.

    James Miller, the deputy under-secretary of defence for policy, has hinted that the US might consider a conventional military response to certain kinds of online attack.

    Although Alexander pledged during his confirmation hearings before the Senate committee on armed services last month that Cyber Command would not contribute to the militarisation of cyberspace, the committee's chairman, Senator Carl Levin expressed concern that both Pentagon doctrine, and the legal framework for online operations, had failed to keep pace with rapid advances in cyber warfare.

    In particular Levin voiced concern that US cyber operations to combat online threats to the US, routed through neutral third countries, "could have broad and damaging consequences" to wider American interests.

    Plans for Cyber Command were originally conceived under President George W Bush. Since taking office Barack Obama has embraced the theme of cyber security, describing it last year as "one of the most serious economic and national security challenges [the US faces] as a nation".

    During his confirmation hearing, Alexander said that the Pentagon's networks were being targeted by "hundreds of thousands of probes every day" adding that he had "been alarmed by the increase, especially in this year".

    Cyber warfare has increased rapidly in scale and sophistication with China accused of being at the forefront of prominent recent attacks, including the targeting of Google and 20 other companies last year as well as "Titan Rain" in 2003 – a series of coordinated attacks on US networks. Russian and North Korean hackers have also been accused of large-scale attacks.

    Moscow was accused of being behind a massive cyber assault on Estonia in 2007 – the second largest cyber warfare operation ever conducted.

    While Alexander has tried to play down the offensive aspects of his command, the Pentagon has been more explicit, stating on Friday that Cyber Command will "direct the operations and defence of specified Department of Defense information networks [involving some 90,000 military personnel] and prepare to, when directed, conduct full-spectrum military cyberspace operations in order to enable actions in all domains, [to] ensure US allied freedom of action in cyberspace and deny the same to our adversaries."

    The complex issues facing Cyber Command were thrown into relief earlier this year when the Washington Post revealed details of a so-called "dot-mil" operation by Fort Meade's cyber warfare unit, backed by Alexander, to shut down a "honeytrap website" set up by the Saudis and the CIA to target Islamist extremists planning attacks in Saudi Arabia.

    The Pentagon became convinced that the forum was being used to co-ordinate the entry of jihadi fighters into Iraq.

    Despite the strong objections of the CIA, the site was attacked by the Fort Meade cyber warfare unit. As a result, some 300 other servers in the Saudi kingdom, Germany and Texas also were inadvertently shut down.

    Of equally concern to those who had opposed the operation, it was conducted without informing key members of the Saudi royal family, who were reported to be "furious" that a counter-terrorism tool had been shut down.

    The issue of cyber warfare – and how to combat it – has become an increasingly fraught one.

    The need to have electronic warfare capabilities, say those who support them, has been proven repeatedly by the apparent success of hostile attacks on government networks, including last year's massive denial of service assault on networks in both the US and Korea.

    Last year, hackers also accessed large amounts of sensitive data concerning the Pentagon's Joint Strike Fighter programme.

    The difficulties facing the new command were underlined in March by former CIA director Michael V Hayden, who said that the Saudi operation had demonstrated that cyber warfare techniques were evolving so rapidly that they were now outpacing the government's ability to develop coherent policies to guide its use.

    "Cyber was moving so fast that we were always in danger of building up precedent before we built up policy," Hayden said.
    US appoints first cyber warfare general: Pentagon creates specialist online unit to counter cyber attack amid growing fears of militarisation of the internet.

    Article of Interest
    From the May- June 2010 issue: The American Interest: The Return of the Raj by C. Raja Mohan

    Friday, May 28, 2010

    Master of Army wants a PhD in War Craft

    Dated: 28 May 2010
    MASTER OF ARMY WANTS A PhD IN WAR CRAFT: TOI 27 MAY 2010- click here

    My Dear Editor in Chief,
    1. We are dismayed to read that Army Chief Gen VK Singh has applied for a PhD in Military Science from Bhopal University. His guide will be Prof. Kailash Tyagi. It is disheartening for the Defence Fraternity to know that our Army Chief needs lessons in Military Science from a Civilian Prof. who has, probably not seen a gun firing! What Gen VK Singh has learnt in 40 years of service about Military Science would enable him to be honoured with PhDs many times over.

    2. Any Defence officer who is professionally competent and reaches the rank of One Star General equips himself with sufficient knowledge in Military Science which no civil University either in India or abroad can impart. Our senior officers have excelled in various seminars, courses etc held abroad and have acquitted themselves commendably. It is pertinent to mention that the only think tank of the country ie Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA) which is responsible for carrying out research on all matters military both tactical and strategic had its Director an officer of the rank of Air Commodore ie (equivalent to Brig in the Army). The Dy Director of the same institution has also been an officer of the rank of Commandore of the Navy which is also equivalent to a Brig. IDSA has a large number of research scholars who are all PhDs. That a chief of the Army Staff had to approach a University for getting a doctorate in Military Science signifies non- recognition by the Govt of the specialist knowledge in Military Science acquired by senior officers during their service. Therefore, it is imperative not only for the good of the Defence Forces and the nation that all officers who achieve the rank of a Brigadier or its equivalent are automatically awarded a PhD degree in Military Science. Some of the courses like Long Defence Management Course (LMDC), Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), Higher Command (HC) are already being awarded MSc in Military Science.

    3. A case in point is that the undersigned was a senior fellow in IDSA as a Brigadier and has been examiner of PhD thesis on Military Science of a reputed University of India after retirement as a Major General. Now that the Defence University is coming up in our country, the Govt must grant PhD to all officers who attain the rank of Brigadier.

    Maj Gen (Retd) Satbir Singh, SM
    The writer is a Former Senior Fellow and Security Analyst of Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), has been examiner PhD thesis in Defence & Security Studies, Ex Commandant Services Selection Centre & President SSB, besides being Instructor at four premier institutions of the Army. Presently he is Vice Chairman of Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM).

    Kargil War: Top commander fudged war records

    Top commander fudged Kargil war records
    The Armed Forces Tribunal has held that a former Army commander showed bias towards a brigadier under whose command some of the major victories were achieved in the 1999 Kargil conflict and directed that the affected officer be considered for a notional promotion.

    The Tribunal has asked the Army to consider former 70 Infantry Brigade Commander Brigadier Devinder Singh for promotion to the notional rank of major general and to put the relevant records and documents pertaining to operations by his formation in Batalik sector written by Lt. Gen. Kishan Pal, then General Officer Commanding (GOC) 15 Corps, be corrected and put in the right perspective.

    In its order, the Tribunal, headed by Justice A K Mathur, held that "the annual confidential reports (ACRs) were not written in an objective and unbiased manner" by Lt. Gen. Pal.

    Noting that the report of a person who writes the ACRs in a biased manner could not be allowed to sustain, it observed that the then GOC was not favourably motivated towards Brigadier Singh and had attempted to tailor the report belittling his achievements.

    "As per the Tribunal order, I will also be considered for promotion to the notional rank of a major general and the records about the operations by my brigade in the war will be set straight," Brig (retd) Singh said here.

    In his plea, which was transferred from the Delhi High Court to the Principal Bench of the Tribunal, Brig Singh said he had contended that in the post-Kargil operations report, Lt Gen Pal had falsely shown four of his most successful battalions under a fictitious headquarters commanded by the then Deputy General Officer of 3 Infantry Division, Brig Ashok Duggal.

    "For reasons best known to Lt Gen Kishan Pal, he was favouring and giving credit to Brig Duggal and my command tenure was shown in bad light. Though it could not help him and he could not take his next rank, I had to suffer a lot because of this act," Brig Singh said here.

    The Tribunal has also asked the Army to expunge all the ACRs of Brig Singh written by Lt Gen Pal. It, Singh said, has also observed that because of the operational differences between him and Lt Gen Pal, the GOC was not favourably motivated towards him and had attempted to tailor reports belittling his achievements.

    During the Kargil operations, the Srinagar-based 15 Corps under its Lt Gen Pal had the responsibility of evicting Pakistan Army regulars and intruders from Indian posts in the mountains along the National Highway 1A in the Ladakh region. Maintaining that it was a long struggle since the Kargil conflict 11 years back, Brig Singh said, "Certainly one feels vindicated.

    "One has gone through a number of stages of non-statutory complaints, statutory complaints, legal notices and several writ petitions...Finally the order has seen the light of the day."
    Top commander fudged Kargil war records
    Read more:
    XV Corps leadership punished officers, who warned of looming threat, to cover up failures: critics
    Kargil cases point to disturbing command failures by Praveen Swami: The Hindu

    Thursday, May 27, 2010

    DRDO fires `swadeshi missile' at armed forces

    New Delhi: The head of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), India’s premier defence research organisation, said that responsibility for the low-level of self reliance in defence systems should not be borne by it alone.

    "DRDO has long been held responsible for the level of self reliance in defence systems, but it must be understood that the responsibility for self reliance should be shared by all stake-holders of MoD and cannot be placed on DRDO alone, which neither has the power to impose its products on its customer nor the mandate or capacity to produce the developed systems all by themselves," Saraswat said.
    DRDO fires `swadeshi missile' at armed forces
    Overcome Temptation to buy Arms abroad, says DRDO Chief 5,000 Kms Range Agni-5 to be tested next year
    DRDO now Developing Technologies for sub Conventional Warfare

    Distorted Kargil war history to be rewritten

    Wrong history, wronged officer
    Tribunal says generals distorted Kargil war account
    New Delhi, May 26: The history of the Kargil war should be rewritten because some generals distorted the records, the Armed Forces Tribunal has ordered in an unparalleled judgment.

    The judgment was delivered after the tribunal concluded that Lt Gen. Kishan Pal, a superior of Brigadier Devinder Singh who commanded the Batalik sector, doctored Singh’s “battle performance report” and the “after-action report” that went into the writing of the official history of the war.

    The official army history prepared by its military operations directorate is titled Op Vijay — Account of the War in Kargil.

    Brigadier Devinder Singh had also predicted the pattern of intrusions by the Pakistan Army and by militants supported by it. He was injured during a battle while personally leading his forces.

    Brigadier Devinder Singh was since forced to retire because, he had alleged, his “battle performance report” was fudged by the commander of the 15 corps, Lt Gen. Pal, and he was not considered for promotion to major general. The brigadier is now a senior manager in a private aviation firm. Pal has also retired.

    The brigadier lodged a complaint within a year of the war but the tardy processes through which such entreaties are considered has taken nearly 10 years. That too has been possible after defence minister A.K. Antony facilitated the creation of the Armed Forces Tribunal to which thousands of military disputes pending in high courts have been transferred.

    The Armed Forces Tribunal judgment made available today could open a can of worms because there are at least three other officers who served in the Kargil war — Brigadier Surinder Singh who was dismissed during the hostilities as the commander of the Kargil-based 121 brigade among them — who complained that their roles were either undermined or that their warnings were not heeded by superior officers.

    Eleven years after the war that peaked around this time in 1999, the way it was fought, the lapses that allowed the intrusions into Indian territory and the role of superior officers are still hotly debated in military and strategic communities.

    Not surprisingly, while the BJP-led NDA government that was swept to power in October 1999 celebrated the “victory” in the war with much fanfare, subsequent Congress-led UPA governments have kept the ceremonies low-key. Inside and outside the army, some people deeply suspect that a clutch of generals who were close to their political masters allowed the intrusions to snowball into a war and then manufactured a victory that came about with US pressure.

    At the height of the war, then defence minister George Fernandes predicted “victory” in 48 hours but the hostilities lasted 80 days and cost the lives of nearly 550 soldiers and young officers. The then director general of military operations, Lt Gen. Nirmal Chandra Vij, who later became army chief and currently heads (with cabinet rank) the National Disaster Management Authority, also went against military protocol to go to the office of the BJP to brief its leadership on the war.

    The tribunal judgment notes that the role of Brigadier Devinder Singh, who commanded the 70 infantry brigade in the Batalik sector, was not acknowledged in the 15 corps “after action report” by his reviewing officer, Lt Gen. Pal.

    The report was accepted by the “senior reviewing officer” — northern army commander Lt Gen. H.M. Khanna — and forwarded to army headquarters’ military operations directorate.

    Before the hostilities peaked, in a wargame in the 15 corps headquarters in Srinagar, Brigadier Devinder Singh, acting as the enemy commander, had forecast the pattern of intrusions along the Kargil front covering the sectors of Batalik, Kargil-Drass and Mushkoh.

    Even in the middle of the war, during a visit by the then army chief, Gen. V.P. Malik, the brigadier assessed that the number of intruders in the formidable heights of his sector would be in the region of 600 regulars of the Pakistan Army.

    This was contested by Lt Gen. Pal who put the figure at 45 irregulars (militants), a ridiculous number, as was concluded from the recovery of enemy arms and munitions from Jubbar and Khalubar Ridge.

    It was probably such an assessment that goaded the government into thinking that the heights could be cleared “in 48 hours”.

    Likewise, in the army headquarters military operations directorate’s Op Vijay – Account of the War in Kargil, Vol III, it was noted that the deputy in the 3 infantry division (under the 15 corps), Brigadier Ashok Duggal, “controlled the Stangba-Khalubar Ridge operations”.

    But the commander of the division, Maj. Gen. V.S. Budhwar, contradicted this and told the tribunal that Brigadier Devinder Singh was in command and that Brigadier Duggal was temporarily (for 72 hours) moved to the eastern flank of the Batalik sector “to assist and co-ordinate”.

    Brigadier Devinder Singh was recommended for a Mahavir Chakra (the second highest award for acts of conspicuous gallantry in the face of the enemy). But after Lt Gen. Pal dealt with his “battle performance report” and approved the “after action reports”, Brigadier Devinder Singh was awarded a Vishisht Seva Medal (for distinguished service of an exceptional order), usually given for peacetime duties.

    A brigade usually comprises about three battalions but after Brigadier Devinder Singh and his 70 infantry brigade was moved to the front from counter-insurgency duties in the Kashmir Valley, there was a time when he was commanding as many as 11 battalions, two more than the number usually allotted to a division.

    A division is headed by a major general and a corps by a lieutenant general. The commanding officers of the battalions filed affidavits and gave written depositions saying that they were under the command of Brigadier Devinder Singh.

    It will be exceptional for the army to now turn the wheel back and restore to Brigadier Devinder Singh his awards and, may be, a promotion. He himself told the tribunal that he wants his military reputation restored because that is what matters most for a professional soldier.

    Army headquarters can either accept the tribunal order or challenge it in the Supreme Court. Brigadier Devinder Singh can also go to the apex court if army headquarters does not accept the ruling. All these steps will be in uncharted territory because there is no precedent. But the controversy over the assessments of the Kargil war is set to be stoked again after the tribunal judgment. More so now that the tribunal will also hear the prayers of three more officers – Brigadier Surinder Singh (sacked for allegedly failing to gauge the depth of the intrusions), a battalion commander, Col. Neeraj Mehra, and Major Manish Bhatnagar who was court-martialled and thrown out of service for allegedly fleeing the battlefield during operations in the Siachen sector.
    Wrong history, wronged officer
    Tribunal says generals distorted Kargil war account

    CLAWS invites research papers and commentaries on Military Modernisation

    Dear All,
    As Managing Editor, it gives me immense pleasure to announce that the Summer 2010 issue of the CLAWS Journal is going to be published shortly. We shall send out details regarding that soon after. Meanwhile, we now call for research-based articles (3,500 words) and commentaries (1,500 words) for the Winter 2010 issue of the Journal which is a theme- based one focusing on various facets of military modernisation, including defence industry and efforts at indigenisation. The deadline for submission of articles/ commentaries is September 15, 2010.
    Warm regards
    CLAWS Journal Winter 2010 - Call for Papers
    Dr. Monika Chansoria
    Managing Editor

    Dr. Monika Chansoria
    Research Fellow/ Managing Editor
    Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS)
    Indian Army, RPSO Complex, Parade Road, New Delhi - 110010

    What is our greatest weakness?
    The greatest weakness is the absence of a National strategy. Manmohan Singh administration not only has not put forward a clear strategic view of the Nation but it is hostile to the very idea of strategy. The PM's national security adviser has an inkling that strategy is merely an after thought and akin to– "it’s what you say you had after you have acted." That is truly revealing and frightening to be actually practised. India has one of the largest, expensive, best educated, reasonably equipped military in the world, but it is strategically brainless at the top because the Bureaucrats who drive the Government and their advisers think that agility is a substitute for strategy. Agility is necessary, but it is reactive. If you have no strategy, you are very likely to become part of someone else’s strategy. The Military Think Tank are only tigers on paper and GOI does neither heed their advice nor take them into confidence. Take the example of tackling Pakistan, Terrorists, Maoists, Naxalites, including the Himalayan border resolution- a flood of papers by eminent Military Leaders just gathering dust in the corridors of power!

    Musings of Missing the Magic

    With a feeling of euphoria and in an expansive mood we came out of the Air Conditioned Noida Golf Course Pub, after an enjoyable evening of dinner drinks and entered a different world: a full moon in the sky, the emerald green, greens and the freeways bathed pale, a pleasant mildly cool breeze caressing us and lingered for a while, we had a meet to welcome Maliks, common friends, on a short visit from USA, still talking of past with feelings dipped in nostalgia.

    Earlier with the tables cleared, the Kulfies and Gulab-jamuns, slowly savoured, we had lingered at the table and later we had lingered at the car park, hands extended, with the feeling of bonhomie, but reluctant to bid goodbye, unconsciously, trying to hold on to the magic of the evening as long as possible.

    Combine of the moon and the cool breeze, unusual for this time in the world of Noida, brought back the magical memories of the legendary Malwa nights: the vast landscape lit by the full moon in the sky, stretching far towards the Bercaha lake; back in time in Mhow and in the company of my late wife. Also evocative of similar night of Dawars at Tezpur, the airfield area, spread as far as eyes could see, suffused with the pale-white moon-light, the tall reed like grass swaying in the mild breeze with the white plumes shining silver reflected by the full moon, high in the sky on a winter night was an ethereal light. The sight, the peace and quiet of those special nights provided, though a sheer magic, no compensation for all the pain of separation from the family some 2000 Km away in Dehradun.

    I came home, parked the car, changed and came down to the park below. It was now past twelve in the night, the moon, and now high in the sky, was still bright, the breeze also blowing and the park suffused with the same evocative pale-white moon-light, alas, the magic that I had come down in search of was missing and so was the company and the companion.
    Brig Lakshman Singh (Retd)

    Wednesday, May 26, 2010

    Government Approves Massive Expansion of Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme

    Wednesday, May 26, 2010
    To provide equitable treatment to all eligible Ex-Servicemen and their dependents under the Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) and to enhance the scheme’s coverage, the Union Cabinet today approved Establishment of 199 new polyclinics including 17 mobile medical facilities and 15 new regional centres at a cost of Rs. 141 crores. With this, the ECHS facility will now be extended to those areas, where Ex-Servicemen population is below 2,500 by setting up polyclinics which are within reasonable distance from Ex-Servicemen concentrations.

    The Cabinet also approved reorganization and strengthening the Central Organisation ECHS by suitably increasing the manpower. It has authorized additional manpower – 2263 in number on contractual basis, to man the additional 199 polyclinics. It has also authorized 315 serving personnel – 60 officers and 255 PBORs, for proposed regional centres and seven officers and 15 PBORs for Central Organisation ECHS.

    Financial implications towards creation of infrastructure will be about Rs.141 crore. This will entail a capital expenditure of Rs. 118.52 crore towards cost of land, construction and medical equipment. An amount of Rs. 22.25 crore of expenditure will cover purchase of furniture etc, and IT hardware. On the recurring side, an expenditure of Rs.43 crore per annum is envisaged.

    It may be recalled that the ECHS was introduced on April 01, 2003 to provide comprehensive medical coverage to Ex-Servicemen pensioners, war widows and dependents by establishing 227 polyclinics at stations with Ex-Servicemen population above 2500 throughout the country. 106 polyclinics are at military stations and 121 polyclinics are at non-military stations. Where the Ex-Servicemen population is less than 2,500, the Ex-Servicemen face hardships in reaching polyclinics because of the distance. There are over 30 lakh ECHS beneficiaries now. On an average 60,000 Servicemen retire every year and this results in a further addition of 60,000 Ex-Servicemen and 1,44,000 dependents to the list of beneficiaries each year. Over 7 lakh Ex-Servicemen, who retired prior to April 01, 2003 have not opted for the scheme primarily due to non-availability of polyclinics near their places of residence. There are also insufficient number of regional centres to monitor the polyclinics.
    Click here for list of additional polyclinics planned to be established
    Click here for the Hindi version

    पूर्व सैनिकों के लिए कच्चे सौदा: केंद्र एक रैंक एक पेंशन देना चाहिए

    ट्रिब्यून: रविवार, 23 मई 2010, चंडीगढ़, भारत

    पूर्व सैनिकों को न्याय के लिए लड़ रहा है. 2008 में, वे अपनी मांगों के साथ सार्वजनिक जाने का अभूतपूर्व कदम उठाया. रैलियों गुड़गांव में आयोजित किया गया था और देश भर में 61 अन्य शहरों. छठे वेतन आयोग की रिपोर्ट अभी बाहर आया था और नहीं अप्रत्याशित रूप से पूर्व सैनिकों को एक कच्चा सौदा मिल गया.

    सम्मेलन से, एक सैनिक को शांति बनाए रखने के बाद भी वह अपनी वर्दी शेड की उम्मीद है. वह खुद इस तरह से इसे पसंद करेंगे. लेकिन उनकी चुप्पी और सम्मान reciprocated किया जाना चाहिए किया जा रहा शोषण के बजाय. अपने वास्तविक आकांक्षाओं से मुलाकात होगी. दुर्भाग्य से, जो कुछ किया जा रहा है.

    एक सार्वजनिक मंच पर किसी के मांग में पेश एक आसानी से या आवेग पर की गई कार्रवाई नहीं थी. वेतन आयोग की रिपोर्ट के declassification पर तत्काल, राजनीतिक नेतृत्व सभी सम्मान और आदर है कि लोगों के प्रतिनिधि होने के कारण है उनके साथ संपर्क किया गया था. 'एक रैंक एक पेंशन' या OROP, क्योंकि यह लोकप्रिय जाना जाता है, नेतृत्व की मांग थी. यह सैन्य पेंशन सेवा की लंबाई और सेवानिवृत्ति पर रैंक, सेवानिवृत्ति की तारीख की स्वतंत्र से संबंधित तात्पर्य.

    संपर्क हमारे राजनीतिक नेतृत्व में उच्चतम स्तर पर स्थापित किया गया था. केवल जवाबी तर्क था "अगर हम तुम्हें दे, अन्य सरकारी कर्मचारियों को भी" मांग करेंगे. 'दूसरों के हमारे अपने परिजनों विरोधी नहीं हैं. अगर वे इसके लायक हो, निश्चित रूप से यह उन्हें ही देना. हालांकि, अगर वे एक बहाने के रूप में इस्तेमाल कर रहे हैं करने के लिए सैनिकों को अपनी सही बकाया इनकार करते हैं, तो यह अनुचित है.

    इसके बाद यह तर्क दिया कि OROP दे जो केवल उन retirees के सैनिकों की तरह सभी के लिए अपने परिवारों से दूर / उनकी सेवा जीवन के अधिकांश के रहने, के लिए केवल जो सदा एक 24x7 काम अनुसूची का पालन पर जो खतरे का सामना करने के लिए और, मृत्यु, किया जा सकता है जो अनिवार्य है जब एक देन पर मध्य तीसवां दशक में सेवानिवृत्त हो रहे हैं के लिए एक दैनिक, आधार ... और मतभेद की सूची पर चला जाता है. तुलना के बीच समान ही वैध है.

    27 अप्रैल को रैली, 2008 पदानुक्रम के कारण नोटिस के बाद शुरू किया गया था. सरकार को बताया गया. वहाँ चिंता का विषय था. 'सैनिक' यह नहीं करना चाहिए, हम याद दिला रहे थे. जब हम सैनिकों का दावा अलग अलग हैं और दूसरों के साथ clubbed चाहिए, न धारणा छी poohed है. लेकिन उम्मीदों में हम अलग रहते हैं. विरोधाभास बताया था. शांति. सार्वजनिक मांग रखने से पहले हमारे एक बहरा कान से मजबूर मजबूरी था, यह एक विकल्प नहीं था.

    सड़क पर एक बहुत ही अनुशासित दिग्गजों ही झटका लग सकता है तरीके से अधिकारियों में भी देखकर. यह किया. हमारी मांगों के पहले दो हफ्तों के भीतर रैली के; मिले थे सुरक्षा बलों और एक पूर्व सैनिक आयोग के गठन के लिए एक अलग वेतन आयोग. हालांकि, वे बहुत खुश फैल विफल रहा है. 2016 में ही पहला प्रभाव ले जाएगा. अलग करने के लिए तत्काल चिंता का विषय यह भी संदेह की नजर से देखा था पता असफल रहने से.

    हमारी नौकरशाही बहुल सरकार को हर समाधान के लिए एक कठिनाई खोजने में जाना जाता है, और वहाँ पर्याप्त समय ऐसा करने के लिए है. आयोग के गठन में, शैतान के विवरण में निहित है. सदस्यों की सूची का प्रस्ताव केवल एक सेवानिवृत्त सैन्य आदमी था. यह भी राजनीतिक पृष्ठभूमि से एक महिला, शामिल ostensibly सेवा विधवाओं के हितों की देखभाल करने के साथ हालत जिसका वह पूरी तरह से अपरिचित होगा.

    दिलचस्प बात यह है सिपाही आयोग में कोई पृष्ठभूमि के साथ करने के लिए एक सेवानिवृत्त न्यायाधीश की अध्यक्षता में, एक अलग वेतन आयोग का गठन करने के लिए बहुत आधार है. दिग्गजों ठीक ही कहा है जब महिला आयोग की एक महिला के नेतृत्व में है, अल्पसंख्यकों से एक व्यक्ति द्वारा हमेशा अल्पसंख्यक आयोग, जनजातीय समूहों में से किसी के द्वारा जनजातीय आयोग, क्यों पूर्व सैनिक आयोग के एक पूर्व सैनिक द्वारा नहीं किया जा चाहिए ? शांति.

    OROP की मुख्य मांग unaddressed रहता है. मांग न तो और न ही बड़ी असाधारण है. इसे और अधिक पैसे के लिए एक मांग नहीं है, बल्कि यह समानता और न्याय के लिए एक मांग है. समान सेवाओं के लिए समान वेतन की उम्मीद अनुचित नहीं कहा जा सकता है. इस सरकार को इसे स्वीकार अनिच्छा भी बनाता है और अधिक दिलचस्प. रक्षा बलों को देश के शस्त्रागार में आखिरी तीर हैं, यह भी सबसे अधिक विश्वसनीय है. एक के स्वास्थ्यप्रद दाँत पर उठा बुद्धिमान या तर्कसंगत कहा नहीं जा सकता है.

    अधिकारियों को कई गुर अपनाया है OROP मांग की बालटी. वे पहली बार नौकरशाहों के एक (समिति आदेश दिया है, एक रक्षा प्रतिनिधि के बिना) के लिए 'में OROP देखो और संबंधित मुद्दों. यह केवल तथाकथित संबंधित मुद्दों को छुआ. OROP सरसरी 'प्रशासकीय नहीं संभव' होने के रूप में अस्वीकार कर दिया था.

    सरकार तो समिति की सिफारिशों से बंधे होने का दावा किया. यह किस्सा है जहाँ एक चोर आधार पर मासूमियत वकालत की कि यह उसका हाथ है कि अपराध किया गया था और वह खुद की तरह है नहीं है. OROP राजनीतिक वर्ग को नकार में complicit नहीं होगा, लेकिन वे जाहिरा तौर पर शक्तिहीन हो सकता है.

    वहाँ निश्चित रूप से कुछ पूर्व 2006-पेंशनरों को बढ़ाने के लिए की घोषणा की गई है. लेकिन वहां अभी भी पहले और बाद 2006-श्रेणियों के बीच एक व्यापक अंतर है. OROP इस प्रकार है, इसके विपरीत करने के बावजूद सरकारी विज्ञापनों मंजूर नहीं किया गया है.

    वहाँ पेंशन से संबंधित मुद्दों पर हाल ही में अदालत के फैसले के एक झोंक दिया गया है सभी ईएसएम पक्ष. एक मामले में सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने सरकार है, जो मीडिया में सूचना मिली के खिलाफ बेहद कठोर शब्दों का इस्तेमाल किया. प्रचलित भावनाओं ईएसएम की मांग का समर्थन है.

    सरकार को दीवार और OROP के काफी समय से लंबित मांग को मंजूरी पर लौकिक लेखन देखने की जरूरत है. न्याय ईएसएम और कुछ नहीं के लिए तय करेगा के लिए एक मांग होने के नाते. कोई wriggle कमरा यहाँ है. फिर भी, हम हम क्या करने जा रहे थे कभी नहीं हमेशा रहेगा वर्दी में जब - अनुशासित, देशभक्ति और जिम्मेदार.
    लेखक थल सेना के पूर्व उप प्रमुख है
    पूर्व सैनिकों के केन्द्र के लिए कच्चे सौदा एक रैंक लेफ्टिनेंट जनरल राज कादयान (सेवानिवृत्त द्वारा एक पेंशन देना चाहिए)

    Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh's blind spots

    Dr Singh's blind spots: Pakistan and Maoists
    May 25, 2010 14:38 IST
    The prime minister's remarks on relations with Pakistan and on the Maoist issue do not bode well for our success in dealing with these two challenges to our national security in an effective manner, writes B Raman.
    Read more: Dr Singh's blind spots: Pakistan and Maoists

    Pax Indica Nitin Pai demystifies the anarchy of international relations
    Why India Must Swing
    May 25, 2010
    "[The] very fact of China's rising economic and military power," Robert Kaplan concludes in an essay in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, "will exacerbate US-Chinese tensions in the years ahead. To paraphrase the political scientist John Mearsheimer, the United States, the hegemon of the Western Hemisphere, will try to prevent China from becoming the hegemon of much of the Eastern Hemisphere. This could be the signal drama of the age."
    Read more: Why India Must Swing

    Military officers who write well spend less time fighting the crazy Bureaucracy

    The Regimental Rogue
    The Young Officer and Staff Duties By Michael M. O'Leary, Captain, The RCR

    Time, time, and the saving of it, should be the soul of every order and instruction, of every report and of every message. - J.F.C. Fuller, 1943

    The line officer despises the lowly "staff officer," and rues the day he might become one himself. But every officer, regardless of rank, position, or responsibilities requires the fundamental skills on which the capable staff officer depends. These skills are best acquired when opportunity presents at the most junior levels, for they are much more difficult to master (or fake) if early years of commissioned rank are spent avoiding putting pen to paper, for this, when dealing with the bureaucracy on behalf of one's troops, is where the rubber meets the road.

    Even the most enthusiastic platoon commander, between assaulting enemy objectives and leading troops to hell and back, must be ready to write a brief, comprehensive and clear memorandum ensuring one of those troops for which he is responsible receives an entitled benefit or is identified for an opportunity. Whether writing Performance Evaluation Reports, letters of recommendation, Summary Investigations, or requests for adventure training funds, young officers are never far from occasions requiring the development of their personal military writing skills. As painful as it may seem at the time, each time a Company 2IC, OC or Adjutant, bleeds red ink over a carefully crafted memo it should be seen not as a condemnation of effort, but as a chance to refine one's abilities. No less important than indications of MPI and individual hits on a rifle range are to an infantry rifleman.

    Officers who write well spend less time fighting the bureaucracy and more time training with resources they managed to convince the staff to provide them. Those who see staff duties as a dead or unneeded art spend a lot of time running in circles and finding things unobtainable when the good old boy net fails them. Easy to set the blame on those others when one's own staffwork is non-existent, even if it means you've set aside one's own commitment to doing the best for the troops.

    In this age of e-mail and instantaneous passage of information and queries, it is hard to develop a concrete understanding that good staff duties are as important as ever. Let me set forth one example:

    In the days of hand-written drafts, and clerk-typed correspondence, a staff officer might take a day or two to mull over the perfect wording for a set of four or five questions to another unit or headquarters. Passing this to a clerk, it might be a day or two before the typed version of the draft was returned. By then, the staff officer had time to consider the issue, and then to view the content, structure and tone of the letter with fresh eyes. Amendments might be in order, to either remove or insert points, or even to completely alter the tone or format of the letter. Extra work for the clerk perhaps, but it did ensure that the final product was as good as the staff officer could produce - in this case the staff officer's contribution was the intellectual effort to create and revise the document, the clerk's was to prepare it in the requested format. Must read: click here to continue reading...

    India Corruption Inc: IAS Officers steal the show

    2 NHAI officials charged with graft
    TNN, May 26, 2010, 01.51am IST
    NEW DELHI: At a time when awarding of national highway projects is back on track, corruption charges against two top NHAI officials has come as a big blow to the authority's claim of following transparent norms in the bidding process.

    On Tuesday, CBI registered a case of criminal conspiracy and corruption against two senior NHAI officials — a chief general manager and a general manager. The agency also slapped similar charges on two senior executives of a Delhi-based road construction company.

    The CBI raids on Tuesday came only a few days after the ministry managed to convince a construction major to withdraw cases against NHAI in Delhi High Court, in which it had alleged that the authority had rejected its bids on frivolous grounds in four cases. The next date of hearing in this case was June 26. The CBI said the modus operandi of NHAI officials was to eliminate all potential contenders on one pretext or the other and favour the accused company ensuring huge financial gains to it.

    Sources said the two NHAI officials — S K Nirmal and Nitin Jain — conspired with the managing director of Oriental Structural Engineers Pvt Ltd, K S Bakshi, and another senior executive S K Dixit and awarded the contract of four-laning of Nagpur-Betul section of NH-69. Sources said the investigation could even involve a top-ranking NHAI official, who could be the mentor of the two accused.

    The 120-km stretch falls in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Investigators said NHAI had received 13 bids for this project of which four were rejected by officials on 'frivolous grounds' at the qualification stage. Four more bidders were eliminated in the next stage of bidding by making stipulations pertaining to submission of original documents in gross violation of the conditions of the tender.
    2 NHAI officials charged with graft

    Multi Crore Poultry Feed Scam
    Correspondent CUTTACK: The State police anti-corruption wing on Tuesday registered corruption and criminal cases against senior IAS officer Bishnupada Sethy and another official for their alleged involvement in multi-crore poultry feed scam. Besides the officials, cases have also been registered against three prominent poultry farms of the State and raids are also being conducted in these farms on...
    IAS Officer Arrested in Cuttack

    Airhostess has Rs4.99-crore assets: CBI
    Aditya Kaul / DNA Wednesday, May 12, 2010 1:20 IST
    New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has unearthed a substantial amount of wealth, including Rs67.5 lakh and foreign currency of various countries from the bank lockers being operated by Indian Airlines air hostess Anu Puri
    Ms Anu in IAS Officer Ravi's honey trap: click for full details

    IAS officer arrested after ACB raid
    PTI, May 4, 2010, 07.37pm IST
    HYDERABAD: The Andhra Pradesh Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Tuesday arrested an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer after it claimed to have unearthed assets worth over Rs 20 crore that were disproportionate to his known sources of income. The Central Investigation Unit of the ACB raided the residence of M Jaganmohan, a 1999-batch IAS officer currently posted as Joint Collector of Ranga Reddy district, and claimed to have seized three kilograms of gold, Rs 15 lakh in cash and many property documents.
    IAS Officer arrested after ACB raid: click here for more details

    Tuesday, May 25, 2010

    Appointment of ex-servicemen could improve service performance

    Studies suggest that those sectors where the services of ex-servicemen have been solicited, these sectors have done reasonably well. Therefore, one solution offered is roping in of ex-servicemen for rendering services.
    CJ: Vishnu Mohan Tue, May 18, 2010 15:26:11 IST

    SOME INDUSTRIAL sectors, both in the government and private, are plagued with issues of corruption and pilferage, resulting in loss in earnings.

    One example is that of government undertaking known as Bharat Coking Coal Ltd (BCCL). Coal is considered to be black gold but it is surprising that (BCCL) is unable to make tangible profits till date since inception.The question is what is hampering the organisation from making profits.

    Part of the coal mines owned by this company is in a place called Jharia, Dhanbad (also known as Jharia Coal Mines) is beset with issues like constant burning of coal resulting in depleting the stocks and also good quality coals are lost in this way every day. There have been good studies made in 2004, by experts involving both from United States of Americas and Canada but I am not sure whether their recommendations for setting this issue rights have been implemented in good spirit as of now. Due to the constant burning of the coal the loss incurred is huge besides causing hardship to local inhabitants surrounding the place and also acute environmental hazard. This is one of the reasons why infrastructure development on a modern scale is not forthcoming in this ‘black gold deposit’ region.

    There are also reports that e-auctioning done by Coal India Ltd is not proper; there seem to be gross irregularity in the whole process preventing free flow of bidders to exercise their rights of bidding. The process of e-auctioning has been controversial since its start in 2004 due to lack of transparency in the bidding process and malpractices exercised by some influential buyers who restricted other buyers from entering the bidding process.

    Like the above example of BCCL, there are many other organisations both in public and private sectors which are failing to give in good performances. Studies suggest that those sectors where the services of ex-servicemen have been solicited, these sectors have done reasonably well. Therefore, one solution offered is roping in of ex-servicemen for rendering services to units like BCCL in bringing about complete transformation for the better. Their service nature could include the following:
  • The chief of security should be an ex servicemen;
  • Security staff to be strengthened in a big way;
  • More power and responsibilities given to these staff for having better control.
    Some successful organisations have benefitted immensely by apponting ex servicemen for bettering their performance especially in controlling pilferage and lack of administration.

    Therefore, it is suggested, that those ex servicemen who are willing to offer their services for bettering the performance of under performing organisations both in public and private sectors should be strongly encouraged.
    Appointment of ex-servicemen could improve service performance
  • Goa to rope in ex-Navy officers to assist marine police

    PTI, May 20, 2010, 01.59pm IST
    PANAJI: The Goa government has decided to rope in former defence officers to guide its marine police force, armed with sophisticated boats to man the coast.

    “We do not have trained manpower to handle such boats. We will have to be dependent on ex-officers of Indian Navy or Indian coast guard for the guidance,” chief secretary Sanjay Srivastava said.

    “Officers can be employed with the special police unit for two to three years. The marine police will work in tandem with the Navy and coast guard to safeguard the state coastline, where vigil has been stepped up after 26/11 and recent terror alerts,” he said.

    Srivastava was talking to the media after taking possession of a high-speed interceptor boat, constructed by Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL).

    The boat which is the fifth to be acquired by Goa has been provided under an initiative of the Union Home Ministry to strengthen coastal security.

    Deputy Inspector General of Police Ravindra Yadav said the need for these boats was felt after the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai when coastal security was breached.

    “The basic responsibility of marine police is to use these boats to ensure there was no sea-bound terror attack and also detect and stop smuggling and other illegal activities,” he said.
    Goa to rope in ex-Navy officers to assist marine police: Times of India

    Stranded ship (the "River Princess") at Calangute Beach, Goa. The ship stranded in 2000 during an unexpected storm. Photo: Soman

    Lowest bid for Princess's removal is Rs 108 crore
    TNN, May 22, 2010, 01.51am IST
    PANAJI: Getting rid of the grounded River Princess may now cost the state at least Rs 100 crore. When tourism department on Friday opened the financial bids of the two companies left in the fray for removing the grounded vessel, Goa-based Madgavkar Salvage was found to have submitted the lowest bid for Rs 108 crore.

    "Madgavkar has submitted a financial bid of Rs 98 crore plus 10% tax. That works out to Rs 108 crore," tourism director Nikhil Desai told TOI.

    Desai, however, said he was unable to provide details of the financial tender submitted by Madgavkar's competitors, US-based Titan Salvage.

    "Titan Salvage has quoted higher. However, it does not mean that we have awarded the tender to any one of the bidders. We are yet to scrutinize Titan's bid," the tourism director said.

    The decision on who gets the contract to get rid of River Princess lies with the Goa State Disaster Management Authority (GSDMA), which will meet shortly.
    Lowest bid for Princess's removal is Rs 108 crore

    Naxal extortion economy: Rs 2,000 crore a year!

    Naxalites with bows and arrows
    May 21, 2010 09:50 IST
    Just how much does the CPI-Maoist take in through its nationwide extortion?
    According to figures provided by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), it is Rs 1,400 crore (Rs 14 billion) annually.

    Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh recently said that it is between Rs 1,000 crore (Rs 10 billion) and Rs 1,200 crore (Rs 12 billion) per year. The Director General of Police in Chhattisgarh, in November 2009, however, had said that the figure was as high as Rs 2,000 crore (Rs 20 billion).

    The literature recovered and the confessions extracted from the arrested Naxal leaders quote different figures. The official figures, of both the MHA and state governments, are products of (often wild) guesswork.

    Hence, such variations are expected. Nonetheless, it is undeniable that the amount the outfit manages to extract from the regions under its domination is substantial and sufficient to keep the fire of revolution burning.

    Available information indicates that Jharkhand alone could be contributing Rs 300 crore (Rs 3 billion), followed by Chhattisgarh, with a share of roughly Rs 150 crore (Rs 1.50 billion).

    Jharkhand, in recent years, has emerged the largest contributor to the Naxal kitty. The enormous legal and illegal mining industry in the state, coupled with the huge forest produce trade amounting to crores of rupees, now forms the backbone of the so-called Red Revolution.

    Other affected states, such as Bihar and Orissa, also make sizeable contributions. In each of the states, the sources contributing to the war coffer of the CPI-Maoist remain more or less the same -- forest produce contractors, mining companies, road contractors, transporters and large- and small-scale industries.

    Money forcibly collected from individuals is comparatively meagre. Intelligence agencies say that this enormous amount of money is allowing the Naxalites to procure arms and ammunition from illegal arms bazaars of Myanmar and Bangladesh.

    Interestingly, data reveals a huge disconnect between the 'annual budget' of the CPI-Maoist and the money that the outfit manages to collect through its regime of large-scale extortion and intimidation

    For example, Misir Besra, the CPI-Maoist politburo member who was arrested in September 2007 but was snatched away to freedom less than two years later by his colleagues from the Lakhisarai court premises in Bihar, had revealed to his interrogators that the outfit had a budget of Rs 60 crore (Rs 600 million) for 2007-09. Of this, Rs 42 crore (Rs 420 million) was earmarked for arms, ammunition and explosives; Rs 2 crore (Rs 20 million) for intelligence gathering; and the remaining Rs 16 crore (Rs 160 million) for transportation, computer training, propaganda and documentation.

    Even Kobad Ghandy, the CPI-Maoist politburo member who was arrested in New Delhi in September 2009, said that the outfit operated on a budget of Rs 15-20 crore (Rs 150-200 million).

    Intelligence and police officials in different Naxal-dominated areas narrate interesting stories about how a large part of the money, collected in the name of revolution, is being misused for personal aggrandisement by the Naxal top brass.

    Tales can be heard about how children of Naxal leaders are pursuing careers in engineering and medicine in Indian metros while the Naxalites themselves are destroying schools of tribal children in remote areas. Such schools house security force personnel at times, but their real 'crime' appears in the Maoist mind to be that they constitute evidence that gives the lie to the Naxal narrative of state

    In fact, the way a large and a complex outfit like the CPI-Maoist functions, it can be safely argued that there is little scope for personal aggrandisement by insurgent top leaders. The case, however, is certainly different where criminalised fringe outfits are concerned. These, wearing Naxal colours, have mushroomed in states such as Jharkhand.

    If this much is well-known, what is only beginning to emerge is the extent to which the civil administration in states like Bihar and Jharkhand is also part of a web of corruption that feeds the conflict.

    Questioned during a 2009 field visit, a senior Jharkhand police official observed that Block Development Officers often pay bribes to be posted to Naxal-affected districts. "There is ample money and no accountability," noted the senior official, his point being quite clear: Illegal mining activity in Jharkhand feeds the Naxalites, bureaucrats and politicians equally.

    Little effort has been made to study this aspect of a burgeoning war economy. Instead, the debate is dominated by the government's emphasis on the regime of loot and extortion put in place by the Red Army.

    Yet a symbiotic relationship is at hand. For instance, contractors laying roads in the remote areas are willing to conceal explosives under the road surface on behalf of the Naxalites, because explosions targeting culverts and small bridges permanently erase evidence of poor-quality work.

    As a necessary first step in dealing with the challenge, the Seventh Report of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission recommended in February 2008 that a special anti-extortion and anti-money laundering cell be set up by state police/state governments.

    The state governments have been asked by New Delhi to prepare action plans to monitor and curb illegal mining. The use of satellite imagery and other intelligence inputs has been advised by the central government in the preparation and implementation of such action plans. Further, a Coordination-cum-Empowered Committee has been set up by the central government to ensure elimination of delays in grants of mineral concessions to reduce the scope for illegal mining.

    These are necessary measures no doubt. But capacity of the states to dominate areas currently under Naxal domination is a critical prerequisite to end extortion by both the Naxalites as well as other elements. Given the current disjointed nature of the ongoing counter-Naxal operations, such a scenario looks improbable anytime soon.
    Shanthie Mariet D'Souza is visiting research fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore and Bibhu Prasad Routray has been a deputy director at the National Security Council Secretariat, New Delhi.
    Naxal extortion economy: Rs 2,000 crore a year! by Shanthie Mariet DSouza & Bibhu Prasad Routray

    Sane Questions
    Is wiping out Maoists and Naxalites easier than wiping out corruption? Who pays the Maoists is the mute question? It is the Political Crimimals who are operating in the Maoist and Naxal belts, as illegal miners and contractors looting the wealth of the nation who are also fuelling the menace!

    Is India too careless about its aviation safety?

    By Ashish Saraf, India Syndicate, 24/05/2010
    The recent Air India Express flight crash in Mangalore that killed 158 people has raised serious questions about India's performance on its aviation safety front.
    The apparent cause of the accident appears to be pilot's error, but safety experts are sceptical about other factors as well, such as poor training, infrequent inspection and the difficult location of the airport. Critics say the Bajpe airport in Mangalore is one of trickiest airstrips in India and should not have been built in such a dicey spot that does not give any scope for the minutest of errors.
    A 2006 audit report by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) says India has been violating hundreds of safety norms, and has scored worst in "technical personnel qualification and training." While the civil aviation ministry has claimed that the Mangalore runway complies fully with international norms, local environmental groups have cited ICAO documents to affirm that the runway does not adhere to international standards of airport design.

    The ICAO protocol specifies there should be a minimum width of 150 metres on either side of the central line of the runway. But Mangalore runway is only 200 metres wide in total. In the tabletop topography where Mangalore airport is nestled, there was no space to construct a 300-metre-wide runway. The bottom line is - the runway is neither long nor wide enough to make up for any landing error.
    Is India too careless about its aviation safety?
    Could corruption and sycophancy be a major factor which reduces air safety in India to a joke?

    Indo-Pak relations continue to frustrate the US agenda in Afghanistan

    The Telegraph Monday , May 24 , 2010: An American dilemma by Ashok Mitra
    Indians generally love the colour of money; whatever the shade of that colour. Americans are making huge outlays in Afghanistan aimed at setting up a solid defence infrastructure against the Taliban. They are building airstrips, helipads and army barracks, widening highways and laying new ones and installing sophisticated communications networks, apart from constructing structures for hospitals and schools. Technologists and technicians of diverse backgrounds, civil and mechanical engineers as well as skilled and unskilled workers from India have crowded in Kabul and sometimes fanned out from there, under military protection, to the outlying provinces to participate in such works in progress. When the Taliban strike, they have no particular programme to spare Indians; it would not be logistically possible to do so either. There is, of course, also the theory that whoever supports the heathen Americans deserve to perish along with the Americans. Casualties are therefore mounting among Indians, a development New Delhi cannot afford to ignore. India’s prime minister communicated his government’s sense of disquiet over the matter to the Afghan president, who in turn will, it is expected, convey the substance of it to the American authorities.
    Read the full article:
    An American dilemma- Indo-Pak relations continue to frustrate the US agenda in Afghanistan

    Monday, May 24, 2010

    National Military Memorial Bangalore

    Dear Military Veterans,
    This is a digital signature campaign to pledge support to the construction of National Military Memorial (NMM) planned and being executed by Govt of Karnataka at Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain and Park in the heart of the city near Vidhana Soudha, Bangalore. However, some civilian groups residing around the memorial site are opposing the creation of NMM at the present site in the name of 'Environmental Destruction' and gone to the Court with a PLI.
    Please support this noble cause and sign the petition.
    With best regards,
    Brig B Chandra Shekar, Veteran

    A FIRST in Independent India! Karnataka the first state… and Bengaluru the first city… to have the National Military Memorial Park to honour our Martyrs
    Amidst a beautiful garden, the National Military Memorial Park is a gesture by the people of Bengaluru to honour the men and families of the brave hearts from Karnataka, who have served and lost their lives for the nation in various conflicts since Independence. This sacrifice shall be remembered by generations to come, while the National Military Memorial Park will stand as a witness to all their sacrifices, which is the reason why we have our freedom today.

    This Memorial will be a peaceful, somber and inspirational space - a lush and forested Park with additional 45-50 trees being planted inside the Park to increase the greenery and foliage. And the least WE Garden Citizens can do is to support the noble cause!

    SIGN the Petition!
    Save paper, sign the digital petition! Click here

    Naxalism remains the biggest internal security challenge: PM

    DD News: Monday 24 May, 2010.
    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said Naxalism remains the biggest internal security challenge and it is imperative to control left-wing extremism for the country's growth.
    His government has not underestimated the problem of Naxalism, Singh said at a national press conference in New Delhi on Monday to mark the completion of one year of UPA-II in office.
    "I have been saying for the last three years that Naxalism remains the biggest internal security challenge facing our country," he said.
    Asked if his government had underestimated the Naxals, he said, "We have not underestimated the problem of Naxalism."
    He said there was no difference of opinion between the Central and the state governments on the issue of left-wing extremism.
    "I have spoken to the Chief Ministers of the states many times on the Naxal issue. The Chief Ministers understand that it is imperative to control Naxalism for the country's growth," the Prime Minister said.
    Singh said to exploit full benefit of economic reforms, it is important to control Naxalism and terrorist elements. "If we don't, it can affect our growth," he said.
    On the issue of terrorism, the Prime Minister said the government is determined to squarely tackle the threat of terrorism and ideological extremism of various kinds.
    He said that terrorism is a major national security issue and it has no religion.
    Terrorism, he said, is being sponsored by particular religious elements and has to be dealt with "effectively" and "purposefully".
    Naxalism remains the biggest internal security challenge: PM

    How to combat Naxals
    The only way is by reducing impact of corrupt bureaucrats posted in the Naxal Areas and ensure developmental funds are not eaten away by contractors and criminal Politicians.
    UPA's first year Progress Report
    Manmohan sings the G tune: Gandhi, Gursharan and 2G airwave

    National Security: Expat Pilots

    AI crash: Focus back on expat pilots
    Mangalore: The crash of the Air India Express plane piloted by a Serbian national on Saturday has put the focus back on whether foreign pilots with various Indian air carriers are able to operate in a country with a diverse topography.
    There are around 560 expat pilots currently employed with various airlines in India and they account for 10 per cent of the total strength of 5,500 civilian pilots.

    Air India Express, the low-cost arm of the national carrier, has 125 expat pilots and they reportedly face a number of problems while operating a flight in the country when they are in the cockpit. In all, Air India has 250 expat pilots.

    "Expat pilots should be removed because they are not familiar with the diverse topography in India," a retired Indian Airlines pilot, who did not wish to be identified, said.

    The common problems that expat pilots face are related to communication and lack of knowledge of topography of Indian terrain, a senior pilot association official said. According to ATC sources, air traffic controllers find it hard to communicate with expat pilots.

    "Many a times, foreign pilots are unable to follow the instructions because of the difference in our accent. Also we find it hard to understand what an expat pilot is saying in his hard accent," an ATC source said.

    The Indian Commercial Pilots Association of erstwhile Indian Airlines has been often demanding that expat pilots must be asked to go home as there is no shortage of pilots in the country.

    "We have been asking the DGCA for their removal and induction of Indian pilots. But every time, the deadline for their removal is extended due to some pressure of the airline companies," an ICA official said.

    The government recently extended the time-frame for phasing out foreign pilots employed by Indian carriers by one year up to July 31, 2011. The move came in the wake of demands by Air India and other airlines that the time be extended beyond July 31, 2010.

    The existing policy for validation of foreign (pilots) licences is valid up to July 31, 2010. Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had requested airline operators to submit their plan for phasing out expatriate pilots along with net requirement of these pilots beyond that date, according to Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel.

    Patel said that since 2008, the number of foreign pilots has come down considerably and gradually Indian pilots, who have mostly been co-pilots, would soon be elevated to the status of commanding pilots.

    Overseas pilots were allowed to fly Indian aircraft initially as during 2004-05, there was stagnation in the aviation sector.

    However, after the sector started looking up, in order to maintain the momentum, foreign pilots continued to be inducted. The DGCA has started a programme for phased reduction of the expat pilots.

    According to Patel, Indian pilots are capable of flying under any condition and their training and qualification can be compared to the best in the world.
    AI crash: Focus back on expat pilots

    National Air Space Security Threat
    Does the MHA give security clearance for the expat pilots before being employed by the Indian Air Carriers? Employing 500 expat pilots without proper int background check will prove disastrous in the long run. The complete air space of India can be compromised or jeopardised. Why are our Intelligence Agencies not objecting to deployment of expat pilots in our skies? The Military Intelligence in coordination with Air force authorities need to actively engage in detecting security lapses from this angle. There is a need to keep a tab and be extra vigilant. Past experience indicates that spies, terrorists and Hawala operators take advantage of the Recruitment Agencies whose only mission is to make huge commissions. Moderator

    Sunday, May 23, 2010

    Raw deal for ex-servicemen: Centre must give one rank one pension

    The Tribune: Sunday, May 23, 2010, Chandigarh, India

    The ex-servicemen have been fighting for justice. In 2008, they took the unprecedented step of going public with their demands. Rallies were held at Gurgaon and 61 other cities throughout the country. The Sixth Pay Commission report had just come out and not unexpectedly the ex-servicemen got a raw deal.

    By convention, a soldier is expected to maintain silence even after he sheds his uniform. He himself would prefer it that way. But his silence must be respected and reciprocated, instead of being exploited. His genuine aspirations must be met. Unfortunately, that is not being done.

    Projecting one’s demand on a public platform was not an action taken easily or on impulse. Immediately on declassification of the Pay Commission report, the political leadership was contacted with all respect and deference that being the peoples’ representatives is their due. ‘One rank one pension’ or OROP, as it is popularly known, was the lead demand. It implies relating military pensions to length of service and rank on retirement, independent of the date of retirement.

    Contact was established at the highest level in our political leadership. The only counter-argument was “if we give it to you, other government servants will also demand”. The ‘others’ are our own kith and kin, not adversaries. If they deserve it, certainly give it to them as well. However, if they are used as a pretext to deny the soldiers their rightful dues, then it is unfair.

    It can then be argued that give OROP to only those retirees who like the soldiers stay away from their families for all/ most of their service life; to only those who perpetually follow a 24x7 work schedule; to those who face danger, and death on a daily basis; to those who are compulsorily retired when in mid-thirties on a pittance… and the list of differences goes on. Comparison is valid only between the similar.

    The rally on April 27, 2008 was launched after due notice to the hierarchy. The government was apprised. There was concern. ‘Soldiers’ should not be doing it, we were reminded. When we claim soldiers are different and should not be clubbed with others, the notion is pooh-poohed. But in expectations we remain different. The dichotomy was pointed out. Silence. Placing our demand before the public was a compulsion forced by deaf ears; it was not a choice.

    Seeing veterans on the road, even in a very disciplined manner could only jerk the authorities. It did. Within weeks of the first rally two of our demands were met; a separate pay commission for the defence forces and constitution of an Ex-Servicemen Commission. However, they failed to spread much cheer. The first would take effect only in 2016. Apart from failing to address immediate concern it was also looked at with suspicion.

    Our bureaucracy-dominated government is known to find a difficulty for every solution, and there is enough time to do so. In the constitution of the Commission, the devil lay in details. The proposed list of members had only one retired military person. It even included a lady from political background, ostensibly to look after the interests of service widows, with whose condition she would be totally unfamiliar.

    Interestingly, the commission is to be headed by a retired judge with no background in soldiering, the very basis for constituting a separate pay commission. The veterans rightly asked when the Women’s Commission is headed by a woman, the Minority Commission always by a person from the minorities, the Tribal Commission by someone from the tribal groupings, why the Ex-servicemen Commission should not be headed by an ex-serviceman? Silence.

    The main demand of OROP remains unaddressed. The demand is neither huge nor extraordinary. It is not a demand for more money; it is rather a demand for equity and justice. Expecting equal remuneration for equal services cannot be called unreasonable. This makes the government reluctance to accept it even more intriguing. Defence forces are the last arrow in the country’s arsenal, also the most reliable. Picking at one’s healthiest tooth cannot be termed wise or rational.

    The authorities have adopted many tricks to scuttle the OROP demand. They first ordered a committee (of bureaucrats, without a defence representative) to look into ‘OROP and related issues’. It only touched the so-called related issues. OROP was summarily rejected as being ‘administratively’ not feasible.

    The government then claimed to be bound by the Committee’s recommendations. It is like the anecdote where a burglar pleaded innocence on the grounds that it was his hand that committed the crime and not he himself. In denying OROP the political class may not be complicit but they are apparently powerless.

    There has surely been some enhancement announced for the pre-2006 pensioners. But there is still a wide gap between pre- and post-2006 categories. OROP has thus not been sanctioned, notwithstanding the government advertisements to the contrary.

    There has been a spate of court decisions lately on pension related issues, all favouring the ESM. In one case the apex court used extremely harsh words against the government, which were reported in the media. The prevailing sentiments support the ESM demand.

    The government needs to see the proverbial writing on the wall and sanction the long pending demand of OROP. Being a demand for justice the ESM will settle for nothing else. There is no wriggle room here. Yet, we will never cease to be what we always were while in uniform — disciplined, patriotic and responsible.
    The writer is a former Deputy Chief of Army Staff
    Raw deal for ex-servicemen Centre must give one rank one pension by Lt-Gen Raj Kadyan (retd)

    Middle East: Iran, Sun Tzu and the dominatrix

    THE ROVING EYE May 22, 2010
    Iran, Sun Tzu and the dominatrix By Pepe Escobar
    Let's face it: Hillary Clinton is one hell of a dominatrix.
    At first the United States Secretary of State said the Brazil-Turkey mediation to get Iran to accept a nuclear fuel swap was destined to fail. Then the US State Department said it was the "last chance" for an agreement without sanctions. And finally, less than 24 hours after a successful agreement in Tehran, Hillary whips the UN Security Council into submission and triumphantly proclaims to the world a draft resolution for a fourth UN round of sanctions against Iran has been reached.
    Read more: Iran, Sun Tzu and the dominatrix By Pepe Escobar

    Mangalore Air Crash Tragic Fallout of Criminal Negligence of Planning and Regulatory Authorities

    Press Release : 22 May 2010
    Mangalore Air Crash Tragic Fallout of Criminal Negligence of Planning and Regulatory Authorities by Leo F. Saldanha
    Environment Support Group
    An Air India Express Boeing 737-800 aircraft arriving from Dubai with 167 on board 2010 tragically crashed at Mangalore International Airport at 6.30 am today (22 May 2010). It is reported that the plane overshot the runway while landing and fell over a cliff resulting in this disastrous crash. Very few are known to have survived this horrific crash.
    This was no accident, but the direct result of deliberate failure of officials at the highest level in the Director General of Civil Aviation, Airports Authority of India, Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Government of Karnataka for allowing this 2nd runway to be built in criminal negligence of applicable norms and standards. Such a strong charge is being made as the likelihood of this kind of a crash (the worst case scenario) was predicted. A series of Public Interest Litigations were fought by the undersigned to stop the construction of this 2nd runway in Mangalore airport on grounds that the design simply did not conform to the most basic national and international standards of airport design. The PILs also highlighted that the airport does not conform with the most minimum safeguards for emergency situations – particularly during landings and takeoffs, and could not have emergency approach roads within a kilometre on all sides of the airport as required.

    No one in authority cared to listen to our fervent pleas. This even when we demonstrated through a variety of representations that that the site chosen for expansion at Bajpe was surrounded by deep valleys on three sides of the runway and did not provide for emergency landing areas as required.

    This neglect of our legitimate concerns forced us to move the High Court of Karnataka in a PIL in 1997 (Arthur Pereira and ors. vs. Union of India and ors., WP No. 37681/1997). A key concern raised was that the 2nd runway in Mangalore could not meet the standards required in dealing with an emergency, particularly during landings and takeoffs – a time when air crashes are most likely to happen.

    The Airports Authority of India filed an affidavit in Court dismissing all our concerns and stated this, amongst other things:
    "It is submitted that as regards the apprehensions of the petitioner that the Length and width of the runway is insufficient for a plane making an emergency landing, the same is without any basis. It is respectfully submitted that all the requirements as per the ICAO recommendation will be met and that there has been no infringement of any of the recommendation and limitation therein." (Copy of this affidavit dated 14 October 1998 is accessible here.)
    1 That such a crash has occurred at the Mangalore airport is unpardonable as a similar crash had occurred at this airport over a decade ago. Fortunately the plane did not tip over into the valley and all passengers, including Union Law Minister Mr. Veerappa Moily, were fortunate to escape..
    2 This safety standard of ICAO also applies to air crafts when landing. It is truly sad that today's tragic air crash could be a consequence of the lack of conformance with this standard.
    For further details, contact:
    Environment, Social Justice and Governance Initiatives, Environment Support Group - Trust, 1572, 36th Cross, Banashankari II Stage Bangalore 560070
    Tel: 91-80-26713559-61 Voice/Fax: 91-80-26713316 Email: Web:
    Read the full text of Press Release
    Press release: Mangalore Air Crash

    Incredible India, can we have a Clean India?

    Peeing and spitting has become the National Hobby- You cannot miss or mask it

    “Are you on the side of those who make India hang her head in shame or those who raise her head in pride,” asks Aamir Khan in an ‘Incredible India' advertisement. I am as big a patriot as is the next person, but sometimes, queries buzz about inside my head querulously. Is there any harm in talking about those aspects of our country that could be wished away!

    Do you need that big gob of spit that just misses your big toe on your way to an important appointment? Or that red-flecked liquid spewed out so casually in a traffic snarl? What could be worse than that giant phlegm-filled hawk that begins from deep inside a champion ‘spitter', making you wince and shut your eyes and ears in anticipation of the actual event? And those artistic red squiggles on pristine walls, winding staircases, and ironically, below signs which scream “Please do not spit here!”

    What about the male members of the human species with undoubtedly canine habits, when they sight a vacant wall, and proceed to let loose in public? The movie Three Idiots has a funny yet effective way of dealing with this, where the culprit receives a gentle jolt, just enough to bring him to his senses, yet does no permanent harm! Pedestrians are often caught between the devil and the deep blue sea; is it safer to sink into excreta, or step off the pavement and be hit by a bus! Tread on mush or turn into mush, as it were!

    The tagline of Lays Chips (no one can eat just one!) rings true as one perceives bright wrappers forming part of the vast garbage dump that our roads have turned into. Plastic bottles, cans, fruit peels and groundnut shells turn the picture murkier! On one memorable suburban train ride from Guindy to Chetpet in Chennai, I walked in confidently to a deserted corner in the ladies' compartment, only to be assailed by a stench that made my insides churn. Someone had let her child squat on the floor and left the evidence behind! ‘Incredible India', anyone?
    Forget about Incredible India, can we have a Clean India? by DEEPTI MENON: The Hindu
    Related news:
    Expanding cities, vanishing space for citizens by T. R. Bhat: The Hindu

    Income Tax Helplines for senior citizens

    I-T helplines for senior citizens: Courtesy The Hindu dated 23 may 2010
    Last date for filing of IT returns is 30 june 2010

    The Income Tax Department will soon set up helplines and dedicated counters for senior citizens as the deadline for filing returns approaches.

    This was announced here on Saturday by V.Nandakumar, Assistant Director of Income Tax.

    He was delivering a talk on ‘Income Tax concessions to senior citizens,' at a meeting organised by the Probus Club, an organisation that caters to the interests of retired persons.

    “Most people do not understand the difference between exemption and deduction,” he said. While the exemption limit for senior citizens is Rs.2.4 lakh, deductions can be claimed under Chapter 6(A) on non-taxable income. The last date to file IT returns for those who have a salary income is June 30.

    Asking those who are entitled for a refund to fill in their bank account details and quote the MICR number carefully, Mr. Nandakumar said that since processing IT returns had become electronic and centralised, tracking a transaction was almost impossible.

    Citing two specific concessions that are available for senior citizens, Mr. Nandakumar said deductions could be claimed for mediclaim insurance premium up to Rs. 20,000 (which is Rs.5,000 more than the ceiling for others). Also, persons suffering from cancer or renal failure can avail a deduction on treatment cost up to Rs.60,000.

    For Chennaites
    R. Subharaj, Probus Club Secretary, Chennai, said a master health check-up at a concessional rate would be conducted for senior citizens on June 21 jointly by the Club and the Health Department. To register call: 24422839, 24981099, 24995290, and 24936825.
    I-T helplines for senior citizens

    Sixth Pay Commission Arrears and PB-4 for Lt Cols
    The IT for AY 2010- 2011 (FY 2009- 2010) will jump anywhere from tenfold to twentyfold compared to previous years (as arrears and Pension will be in the order of over Rs 7 lakhs). The new IT form SARAL I is easy to fill and submit. ESM whose income exceeds Rs 1.6 Lakhs (and senior citizens aged over 65 years exceed Rs 2.4 lakhs) will need to submit the IT return by 30 Jun 2010. Many JCOs and NCOs too will come under the taxation in view of enhanced Pension and Arrears. The ESM Organisations need to educate and guide JCOs, NCOs and Sepoys on this important aspect.


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    Blog Moderator: Lt Col James Kanagaraj (Retd)