Wednesday, April 16, 2014


         WRITTEN BY 
                     BRIG BEHRAM M.PANTHAKI(Retd) 
                     ZENOBIA PANTHAKI

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Headless ‘At Sea’, Failure to Appoint Naval Chief is Criminal Neglect

Following the major accident in the submarine INS Sindhuratna, in which two young and brave officers lost their lives and a number of others, including the submarine’s commanding officer were injured, the then CNS – Admiral D K Joshi had resigned. Perhaps the spate of accidents in the previous few months also made the Admiral take this unusual step. It was obvious to all observers, including the file-pushers sitting in the Ministry of Defence (MoD), that the cause of the accident was outdated and obsolete equipment and not dereliction of duty by any of the crew. In actuality, the commanding officer and his mates on the submarine did not panic but displayed a high degree of professionalism and indeed bravery and managed to limit the fire quickly, taking casualties while doing so.It is important to focus on the reasons for Admiral Joshi taking recourse to resigning. Of even more importance is the need to discuss the non-appointment of a successor even after nearly two months of the resignation.
The resignation of Admiral Joshi came as a bolt from the blue. Those of us who wear or have worn a military uniform do understand that it was the upholding of honour that must have been the cause of this decision. However, I doubt if the political leadership and the bureaucrats have understood the motivation of the Admiral. The reason is that they do not understand the concept of honour that is ingrained in military persons. However, they must have heaved a sigh of relief as the Sword of Damocles’ hanging over their heads for their acts of omission and commission suddenly disappeared! While the Admiral displayed the highest level of professionalism and character qualities, it is the worthies in the government who were actually responsible for the lapses that resulted in most of the accidents.
The circumstances leading to the resignation are quite simple. Despite numerous attempts made by the Admiral personally and by naval headquarters to highlight the awful state of equipment of the navy, the government remained unmoved. No action was taken by the Defence Secretary and the DG Procurement to upgrade the sorry state of naval equipment, particularly of the submarine arm. The Secretary Defence Production too did not gear up the vast number of defence PSU’s and ordnance factories at his beck and call to replace components and equipment that were no longer serviceable. Resultantly, naval platforms had to make do with obsolete equipment. Accidents therefore were slated to take place. The blame for this state of affairs lies squarely with the MoD and the Defence Minister who failed to provide the wherewithal to the navy. It is they who should have taken the rap. But then, along with honour, accountability too is an alien word for our bureaucrats as well as our political leaders.
Let me now change tack and deal with the non-appointment of a new CNS. The country in general and the Indian Military in particular fail to understand why a new CNS in place of Admiral Joshi has not been appointed so far. We are now close to completing two months since that event, but there are no signs that the government intends to appoint a successor. It is nothing short of criminal neglect and once again focuses on the utter neglect of the Indian Military in the last ten years if not more. The on-going general elections cannot be an excuse.
That the government has always been blasé about the Indian Military is well known, but not to appoint the head of service for nearly two months is an unmitigated disaster. In the past, many chiefs of the Indian Military had changed before completing their stipulated tenures. Reasons included death in harness; removal by the political leadership on what seemed flimsy grounds; being kicked upstairs; or other political reasons wherein loyalists were rewarded. However, in all those cases, their successors were appointed without any undue delay.
Hierarchical organizations like the navy, have built in scope for command at all levels so that the organizations from the lowest to the highest levels continue to function efficiently and work does not slow down or cease. Thus, when the naval chief is not there, the vice chief takes over. However, these built-in safeguards must necessarily be highly temporary. They are of immense importance during wars, when it is essential to have an immediate leader to take charge. We have had many instances when the concerned unit continued with its operational tasks and the new incumbent completed the assigned task till the new leader arrived. The hierarchy ensured that this came about as expeditiously as possible.
Selecting a new incumbent to lead the Indian Navy is important from many counts. Firstly, the restoration of morale of all officers and ratings adversely affected on account of losing comrades in accidents and by the resignation of the CNS is of utmost importance. Although commanders at all levels must have addressed this immediately, many personnel must be still feeling that they had let the CNS down. It is only a new CNS who with the force of his personality and reassuring policies can restore morale fully.
Secondly, faith in the equipment needs to be restored at the earliest, as there would be considerable hesitancy to operate equipment of old vintage and dubious reliability. This needs to be addressed by a new CNS, who would no doubt set in motion actions to immediately replace shoddy equipment. No doubt naval headquarters must have already commenced work on this aspect, but it is only the authority of a permanent incumbent which works best.
Thirdly, the more the delay in appointing a new CNS, the more will be unsavoury actions on the part of the few eligible officers to showcase themselves as the best successors! Such thinking, let alone actions will automatically stop. I recall very well, as the then DGMO, the body language of the few likely successors and their attempts at lobbying after the sad and sudden demise of General BC Joshi while in harness. The outrageous speculation that had generated amongst the rank and file stopped only after the selection and appointment of the next incumbent – General Shankar Roy Chowdhury. The government had acted with alacrity then and all speculation, including by the likely successors had ended.
Fourthly, although theoretically continuity is maintained by the temporary incumbent, in reality he stays his hand, especially when major or risky policy decisions are to be taken and he is one of the contenders for the appointment. Keen observers are already talking about a missed opportunity at the international level when the navy withdrew rather early from the search for the missing Malaysian Airlines aircraft. Contrast this with the timely and bold decisions by an erstwhile CNS – Admiral Arun Prakash, when the navy earned laurels in coming to the aid of Tsunami victims. It is only permanent incumbents at the highest levels who can take bold but calculated decisions.
Many moons have already passed with the ebb and flow of the tides in the Indian Ocean, but the files in the MoD and in the Appointments Committee seem to be waiting for some other phenomenon before they enlighten everyone. For the sake of the Indian Navy and the Nation, I fervently hope that they hurry up!

Army generals surprise late chief’s wife on her 99th birthday

The wife of the army’s third Indian chief, late General SM Shrinagesh, was overwhelmed when three serving generals from her husband’s regiment walked into her Gurgaon flat on Sunday, opening the floodgates of emotions and memories for the nonagenarian.
Her eyes lit up as pipers from the Kumaon regimental band belted out some nostalgia-stirring tunes for the army’s grand old lady. Leaning forward from her wheelchair, she clapped her hands. And then, she broke down.
“This has been an incredible flashback to my army days. I am still married…to the army,” she said.
Shrinagesh, who passed away in 1977, was the army chief from May 1955 to May 1957. The general’s pictures adorn every wall of her home. She has donated his personal effects to the Kumaon Regimental Centre in Ranikhet.
Her granddaughter Ritu Singh said, “The best gift you can give someone is great memories. The army just did that.”Army’s quarter master general Lieutenant General Om Prakash, additional director general (public information) Major General Bobby Mathews and National Security Guard IG (operations) Major General BS Das --- all from Kumaon Regiment --- showed up at the party.
General Om Prakash, the senior-most officer from Kumaon Regiment, said, “Age has not withered her charm and poise. She’s a link to our glorious past. It’s a privilege to be here.”
The onslaught of time has not dulled the lady’s faculties, and certainly not her wit.
She recalled how General Shrinagesh did not talk to her for a month after Pandit Nehru tapped her knee during a conversation. “He was extremely possessive. I asked him to keep me in a glass cabinet,” she said.Army chief General Bikram Singh and his wife Bubbles sent her a bottle of champagne, flowers, a card and a cake that read “from all officers of YOUR army.
Army celebrates war veteran’s 100th birthday Nikhil BhardwajTribune News Service
Jalandhar April 15
Felicitation: Vajra Corps GOC Lt General Ashwini Kumar Bakshi honours Major (retd) Kashmira Singh on his 100th birthday at his home in Jalandhar on Tuesday. Tribune photo
At 100 years of age, veteran war hero Major (retd) Kashmira Singh may not be as agile as he was during his service in the Indian Army, but he definitely is lively. In a rare gesture, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Vajra Corps along with his team went to Major Singh’s house in Model Town here today to celebrate his 100th birthday today. Lt General Ashwini Kumar Bakshi, GOC, and senior officers of the Vajra Corps presented Major Singh him a memento.
The Army officers bowed in respect and then gave a thunderous applause when the ex-serviceman, who had fought the 1947 India-Pakistan war 1962 India-China war and 1965 India-Pakistan war, was brought out of his living room towards the verandah in a wheelchair.
The Vajra Corps rolled out a red carpet in his house to give a rousing welcome to the veteran war hero. The entrance to his house was bedecked with tall stands bearing his old pictures dating back to wartime.
Major Singh had an illustrious career spanning almost three decades during which he held important staff and unit appointments.
After marrying Joginder Kaur in 1931, he became the father of three sons and two daughters. Four of them are settled abroad and could not turn up for the birthday function. One of her daughters, Surinder Kaur, married to Air Commodore (retd) JS Jaswal and settled in Noida, had come down to the city for her father’s 100th birthday.
As Major Singh was suffering from fever today, he did not talk much. Her daughter, however, interacted with everyone. “My father still considers himself an Army officer. At this age, he is quite independent and follows the discipline of an Armyman. In spite of turning 100, he can read newspaper without spectacles. He wakes up at 6 am and, after a taking bath, he recites various hymns,” she said.
“I feel honoured to be the daughter of a brave man, who made the Indian Army proud with his illustrious career”.
Lt General Bakshi, “It is a privilege for the Vajra Corps to wish Major Singh on his centenary birthday. It is a rare occasion for me as I haven’t seen an officer celebrating his 100th birthday,” he added.
One of his subordinates Havildar (retd) Dev Raj Dogra (75) was effusive in his praise. “I haven’t seen an officer like him in my life, who was so strict but accommodating as well,” Dogra said while saluting Major Singh.
Indian forces took part in Lankan war: Plea
CHENNAI: Did India clandestinely deploy its armed forces in Sri Lanka during the final phase of the ethnic war in 2009? 
A PIL filed in the Supreme Court has said Indian military personnel took direct part in the war, and that some were even injured in the battle. A Sikh officer was commanding the forces, it said, citing eyewitness evidence and international probe. Noting that deploying Indian military without parliamentary or presidential nod is illegal, it sought a special tribunal to probe and prosecute persons who were behind the "illegal war", besides compensation to the immediate families of the victims. 
The petition filed by Delhi-based advocate Ram Sankar, secretary of Delhi Tamil Advocates Association, last week has been listed for hearing on April 17. 
The petition said Indian Army, Navy and Air Force personnel "were unlawfully sent to Sri Lanka to aid and abet the Sri Lankan forces in their internal war against Tamil minorities" in 2008 and 2009, without declaring an open war or without the sanction of the President of India, who is the supreme commander of the armed forces, and without parliamentary sanction required under Article 246 of the Constitution. 
Sankar said he visited Sri Lanka several times as part of international humanitarian efforts. "Asylum seekers have said that a turbaned Indian officer was seen commanding the armed forces that were attacking Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu." 
"The authorities, without declaring an open war, deployed the personnel of armed forces in aid and abetment of the armed forces of Sri Lanka. This fact was also not revealed to Parliament, which alone is vested with the power to regulate the military affairs. There is no provision in the Constitution permitting the use of Indian armed forces for any purpose other than for the defence of India," he said. 
"This clandestine action of Indian armed forces to assist the Sri Lankan armed forces against Tamil rebels in a domestic conflict, not for the defence of India, in 2008 and 2009 is reported in paragraph 56 of a report prepared by an independent international panel of experts appointed by the United Nations secretary general Ban Ki Moon. It was published on March 31, 2011," the PIL read. 
It wanted the apex court to constitute a special investigation team under its control and supervision to probe individual and collective roles of Indian armed forces against Tamils, including persons of Indian origin, in Sri Lanka. It wanted the court to direct the authorities to constitute a special tribunal to prosecute those who committed the crimes against the lives, property and honour of Tamil minorities in Sri Lanka, and to direct them to pay adequate compensation to the immediate family members of the victims. 
Sankar cited the ministries of defence, external affairs and home, besides the cabinet secretariat, as respondents in the case.

The simmering Siachen and Indo-Pak ties

In May 2005, as Indian and Pakistani Track I negotiators were reaching a 'settlement deal' on the forbidden Siachen Glacier, the then Chief of the Army Staff Joginder Jaswant Singh made an unexpected public statement. A deal would only work, he said, when Pakistan agreed to authenticate the 110-km Actual Ground Position Line dividing the two armies. The deal was about the 'demilitarisation' of the glacier, a euphemism for India vacating this strategic battle-ground to appease Pakistan and some common alien masters. Obviously it fell through.
In his Book 'The Accidental Prime Minister' Sanjaya Baru accuses General JJ Singh of playing double game: "In closed-door briefings, the General would say that a deal with Pakistan was doable, but in public he would back (AK) Antony when the Defence Minister chose not to back the PM." JJ Singh, vehemently denies this, but considering the past manipulations of this General including the obnoxious doctrine of 'Line of Succession' a jury need to be put out!
While so, on this simple revelation, Delhi is simmering even as temperature in Siachen glacier is hovering around -15 degree Celsius! Heat is such that BJP's highly-visible prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, has taken up this as a grave national security issue and has asked the non-visible Prime Minister to come clean, saying that this matter is going viral on social media. What is going around in the social media is a brief on the subsequent developments on Siachen under UPA II, when Baru was not there.
The simmering Siachen and Indo-Pak ties

The Siachen issue has multiple ramifications and in light of Sanjaya Baru's revelations, it is perhaps vital that a detailed investigation is done.

In September 2012, the Ottawa based Atlantic Council, alleged to have links with Pakistan's ISI, announced the signing of an agreement to demilitarize Siachen as part of Confidence Building Measure between India and Pakistan. This agreement was negotiated by a 22-member India-Pakistan Track II team, headed on the Indian side by former Air Chief Marshall SP Tyagi. The Pakistani side was led by General Jehangir Karamat, a former Pakistan Army Chief. Meetings were held at Bangkok, Dubai, USA and finally at Lahore. This was despite the clear stand adopted by the Army, Defence Ministry and Ministry of External Affairs against 'demilitarization' of the glacier that has huge strategic value for India.
There was something sinister in the whole thing because Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been under pressure from the US to pull back from Siachen as a sop to the Pakistan Army who has been threatening to lease out Baltistan/Gilgit to China. It was also known that despite having no actual presence on Siachen, Pakistan continues to claim the territory.
As soon as details of the 'Agreement' were put up on the internet all hell broke loose. It went ballistic on the military (serving and veteran) email circuit in which I was also a part. Lt. General PC Katoch, a former commander of the Siachen Brigade fired the first salvo: "For decades, India has always distrusted the Atlantic Council, which is perceived to be in bed with the Pakistani military. In this arrangement Pakistan has grabbed the strategic opportunity to attain all its key goals. It is surmised that the PM is aiming for a Nobel Peace Prize to recover the legitimacy his Government has lost after a succession of scandals." This was followed up by an article by me and Kunal Verma (Author, 'The Long Road to Siachen: The Question Why) in Gfiles in August 2012. Otherwise there was no whimper.
The just retired General VK Singh's take on the issue was nuanced and candid: "Let us first be very clear as to who is asking for this so-called demilitarization. The Pakistanis are not on the Siachen Glacier, but are west of the Saltoro Range. Contrary to what they want their own people to believe, they have a zero presence in Siachen. I wonder if demilitarization will also result in Pakistan withdrawing from Baltistan, pulling back to the west towards the Karakoram Highway. It is ludicrous that in such circumstances we are talking of demilitarization and withdrawal. Our troops are well established and administratively well off so what is the rationale to pull them out of the area?"
A set of twelve questions were posed by me to the Track II team: (i) Who appointed the Team and what are their credentials and service record in the Siachen area? (ii) Who all in the Government briefed the Team? (iii) Did the Team visit Siachen before inking the agreement? (iv) Was the decision of the Team unanimous? (v) Decision to demilitarize Siachen has grave military consequences. Were the three Service Chiefs consulted on this? (vi) This issue has serious strategic, deployment, logistics, demographic, displacement, cost and time implications for the Army. Was the matter discussed with the Northern Army Commander? (vii) After 'demilitarization' what additional measures will be required to check terrorist infiltration in Kashmir Valley? (viii) Is it merely a Track II initiative? If so why were the members briefed by Government officials before the Lahore meet? Were they not told that this team is "as good as Track I"? Does it not make it official? (ix) NSA is stated to have briefed the leader of the Team and one/two members separately? If so why? To firm up a secret deal? (x) The whole process, particularly signing of the Agreement was kept under wraps. Why this secrecy? (xi) On whose orders did some select members of the Team justify the agreement? (xii) Why was such a major decision not discussed in Parliament and President kept informed?
None of the Track-II participants answered even a single question, perhaps secure in the knowledge that their actions will be protected by those on behest of whom they had been acting. But faced with intense heat from several quarters, including charges of treachery, the Indian co-chair of Track II, a former Air Chief Marshall confessed that they only acted on orders and there were bigger players including the PMO behind this.
However three of the key players of Track II participated in the email exchanges. It included retired Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal who authored the original demilitarization plan in 2005 along with a Pakistani Army officer under the aegis of a US think-tank. This is what he said: "We have different views on the issue of the demilitarisation of the Siachen Conflict zone.... My views are consistent since the summer of 2005 when I did some research into the subject in a US think tank along with a Pakistani colleague and realised how both the nations were wrong in continuing to occupy their positions....."
This was followed-up by the co-chair ACM Tyagi who clarified: "Brig Gurmeet Kanwal has already sent an email...The press release by the Atlantic Council was approved by me and General J Karamat.... Before its release we in India informed the Service Chiefs and many Very Senior Offrs in the establishment dealing with Indo Pak issues... There was "No Conspiracy".... We were not appointed by any Government Agency nor do we have anything do with the Govt of India. While it is true that we did meet several Government functionaries to keep us up to date, we take full responsibility for what we say and do... We hold no official post, have no authority and we voice our individual opinions. We did not suggest that we should give up Siachen now. All that we agreed upon was that should the two sides ever agree to demilitarise then this could possibly be a way."
Col. (Retd) Ajay Shukla who was PMO's key facilitator in Track II was pontificating: "The crucial thing to understand about the Siachen Proposal is: it spells out the modalities for the demilitarization of Siachen, but does not say anything about when this demilitarization should be done. That vital question-i.e. whether to demilitarize Siachen at all-is a political issue that the two governments continue to discuss in the Track I Siachen dialogue. The modalities of demilitarization, naturally have relevance only after a full-fledged Siachen Accord between the two governments.... It is important to note that the much-vilified Track II dialogue is entirely in line with the Track I official dialogue with Pakistan. In that, India insists upon the authentication of ground positions as a pre-requisite for demilitarization. The Track II Siachen Proposal explicitly specifies that "The present ground positions would be jointly recorded and the records exchanged."
The no-nonsence General VK Singh could not take this crap and retorted: "Shuklaji, what are you defending? A jaunt given by the government to work out an informal agreement that can then be sold to the Public? Your defence is in itself an indictment of the stupidity of the group which attempted this."
Forced to the corner Col Shukla turned abusive. He called us all 'communal scums' and pointing to me wrote: "Amongst those with the most dubious credentials in this group is you. An IAS officer turned moralizer! What a combination, Sir-ji." This impotent outburst did not work and for the second time PMO beat a hasty retreat and Siachen lived for another day. But the questions still remain unanswered!
Finding the answers is the task cut out for the new Government. The Siachen issue has multiple ramifications and in light of Sanjaya Baru's revelations, it is perhaps vital that a detailed investigation is done. While it is possible that most of the Track II members were acting in good faith, the role of the three key members-Tyagi, Kanwal and Shukla-looks suspect. It is also imperative that General JJ Singh's role is also looked at, because it involves the Institutional Integrity of the Armed Forces that has been sliding down hill. Senior commanders are in the habit of compromising national interest and tell the political bosses what they want to hear. This is not acceptable.
Given the magnitude of what the Army has achieved over the last thirty years in securing not just the Glacier but also the Saltoro, we need to bury the issue once and for all. If for nothing else, we owe it to the blood, shed by our valiant soldiers to accomplish this. Let them at least be secure in the faith that while they guard the 'final' frontier, the gates to the country shall not be opened from within!
(Writer is a former Army and IAS Officer and author)

Indian Navy recruitment for Permanent Commissioned and Short Service Commissioned Officers

The Indian Navy has invited applications for the recruitment of eligible candidates to the posts of Permanent Commissioned Officer in Logistics Cadre (male candidates) and Short Service Commissioned Officer in Education branch and Air Traffic Control. The courses will begin from December 2014 for the selected candidates at the Indian Naval Academy (INA), Ezhimala, Kerala. Only unmarried candidates are eligible for the recruitment. Last date for application is May 4, 2014.
Logistics Cadre (male candidates only) - Permanent Commission
Age of the candidate should be above 19 years and below 25 years. Candidate should have completed B. Com/ M.Com or BA/MA (Economics) or BBA /MBA or BBM/BMS or BCA/MCA or BSc (IT)/MSc (IT) or B.Tech/BE(any discipline) or Graduate Degree with Post Graduate Diploma/Degree in Materials Management or ICWA or Chartered Accountancy with minimum 60 per cent marks.
Works (male candidates only) - Short Service Commission
Age of the candidate should be above 19 years and below 25 years. Candidate should have completed BE/B Tech Civil Engineering or Bachelors of Architecture with minimum 60 per cent marks.
Education branch (male or female candidates) - Short Service Commission
Age of the candidate should be above 21 years and below 25 years. Candidate should have completed MSc Physics (with Maths in BSc) or  MSc Maths (with Physics in BSc) or MSc Chemistry or MA (English or History) or MCA (Physics or Maths at Graduation Level) with minimum 50 per cent marks. OR BE/B Tech/M Tech in any of the following specializations: Mechanical, Electronics and Communication, Electrical and Electronics, Electronics and Instrumentation, Electronics and Tele Communication, Electrical, Computer Science, Information and Technology with minimum 60 per cent marks.
Air Traffic Control (male or female candidates) - Short Service Commission
Age of the candidate should be above 19 years and below 25 years. Candidate should have completed BSc in Physics/Maths or Electronics with 60 per cent marks or Msc in Physics/Maths or Electronics with 55 per cent marks.
SelectionEligible candidates will be called for the selection process to be conducted by Services Selection Board (SSB) on the basis of their marks in their respective qualifying exam. The SSB selection process will be conducted in two stages: Stage I will include intelligence test, Picture Perception and Discussion test. Candidate clearing Stage I will go on to Stage II which will include Psychological testing, Group testing and Interviews. The SSB interviews will be conducted at Bangalore/Bhopal/Coimbatore/Visakhapatnam between June and October 2014. The last step in selection will be a medical examination. Selected trainees will undergo Naval Orientation Course at the Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala, Kerala followed by professional training at various Naval Training Establishments/Units/Ships.
How to applyInterested candidates can apply by filling in the online application form and uploading a passport size photograph. After completing online application, take a print out and send with photocopies of relevant certificates to Post Box No. 04, Nirman Bhawan PO, New Delhi - 110 011 so as to reach before May 14, 2014.
New Delhi, April 15
Former Indian Army Chief General Joginder Jaswant Singh (retd) today rubbished the claims of Sanjaya Baru on pulling back Indian troops from Siachen Glacier.
Baru, who was Media Adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh between 2004 and 2008, in his book “The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh” released recently criticised the former Army Chief for his stand on Siachen.
The retired General today said “what Baru has written is rubbish, it is more out of vested interest to make his book sensational. He had no idea what transpired at meetings among the PM, defence minister, national security adviser and myself”. Baru was never part of these meetings which were strictly on a “need to know basis”.
“For Baru to cast aspersions on military leadership is unacceptable with his (level of) knowledge of the Siachen issue. He is not aware how military advice is sought and analysed and this definitely was not part of his duties,” the former Army Chief said.
“I had advised the PM on what is a well-elucidated stand of the Indian Army: There is no question of withdrawal of troops till Pakistan accepts and authenticates the existing Indian troop position and the Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) on maps and also on ground”, General JJ Singh said and added this was the stated policy of the Army. This was exactly the advice given by my predecessors and also my successors. General Singh was Chief between February 2005 and September 2007. “Only if Pakistan agreed to this would, the next phase kick in”, he added.
New Delhi, April 15
Almost 50-days after Indian Navy Chief Admiral DK Joshi quit, the government has moved the file to appoint his successor. Vice-Admiral RK Dhowan may be the next Navy Chief as the Ministry of Defence has reportedly recommended his name to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Admiral DK Joshi quit on February 26 following an accident on board INS Sindhuratna off the cost of Mumbai. Two Navy men were killed in the incident.
Vice-Admiral Dhowan, who was made the acting Navy Chief after Joshi's exit, is in the race for the top post along with Western Navy Commander Shekhar Sinha and Eastern Commander Anil Chopra.
Vice-Admiral Sinha is the senior-most among the three, but he may be left out because majority of the 14 mishaps, including two major submarine accidents, took place under his command during the past 10 months.
Top sources confirmed the file was awaiting clearance from the Prime Minister-headed appointments committee of cabinet (ACC). "The name of acting Navy Chief, Vice-Admiral Robin Dhowan, has been suggested," they say. The Prime Minister has to take the final decision.
If appointed, Vice-Admiral Dhowan will have a tenure of 25 months as the Chief of Naval Staff (till May 31, 2016). Had Admiral Joshi, who had 15-month service left, not resigned, Vice-Admiral Dhowan would have retired on May 31, 2014. Service Chiefs retire at 62 years of age, while Vice-Admirals retire at 60.
The sudden resignation by Admiral Joshi effected a change in the line of succession in the Navy. Had he retired as per schedule (in August 2015), Southern Navy Commander Vice-Admiral Satish Soni would have become the next Chief.
PM's daughter accuses Baru of violating trust
New Delhi, April 15
Terming Sanjaya Baru's controversial account of his days in the PMO as "nothing but a stab in the back", Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's daughter has accused him of "violating" the PM's trust while branding the book as an "unethical", "mischievous" exercise.
Manmohan Singh's daughter Upinder Singh, who teaches history at Delhi University, said Baru has pieced together "gossip" and unverified quotes, including some of her father's, and used them as statements of fact.
In an interview to The Indian Express, she also questioned the timing of the PM's former media adviser's book, which has hit the stands amid the General Election much to the embarrassment of the PMO and the ruling Congress, and said it could not be described as an "objective" book.
"It is an audacious account with so-called quotes, of even the Prime Minister, which have been recorded as facts.
“Reported speech has been used as direct speech. Is this ethical?" she was quoted as saying by the newspaper today.
Questioning some of Baru's claims in the book, 'The Accidental Prime Minister: The making and unmaking of Manmohan Singh', she said he was never part of the decision-making process in the PMO.
"He is holding forth and projecting himself in the centre of events which is not true and he had no access to files. It is not as if he was the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister. So what are the sources he has used? I spot an element of self-promotion in these assertions," she said.
She said she was not speaking on behalf of the PM but added that "we are extremely angry at the exaggerated level of access the author has ascribed to himself". — P
Panchkula, April 15
Veteran soldier Thakur Singh Negi, 80, who fought the India-China War in 1962 finally got justice when a tribunal headed by the Panchkula Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) ordered his son to evict the house.

Thakur Singh, who was residing in Sector 15, was thrown out of the house by his son and daughter-in-law on May 6, 2013.
He was living in an old-age home for the past 10 months. District and Sessions Judge RK Sondhi noticed him during a visit to the old-age home.
The District Legal Services Authority took up the matter and a case was filed under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act - 2007.
SDM Gurmeet Singh and other two members of the tribunal today ordered his son, Deepak Negi, to vacate the house within one month.
Advocate Manbir Singh Rathi, counsel for Thakur Singh, said: “The complaint by the victim stated that after his wife died around 10 years ago, his son and daughter-in-law used to torture him physically and mentally. They forced him to shift to the old-age home. Thakur stated that he was also ill-treated by them.”
Despite the fact that the house was in the name of Thakur, he was thrown out of it. The case was filed before the tribunal in January this year.

Use your PAN card carefully

 PAN card data has become essential for certain transactions, which makes PAN card identity theft more likely than ever.

Waving a PAN (Permanent Account Number) card as a form of identity, when such a document is required with a photograph, has become second nature to many of us. Keeping a laminated copy as a spare, and placing the original in safe-keeping, is the strategy adopted by many. But now, with more and more transactions requiring a copy of a PAN card, or at the very least the number, it appears that the role of this essential piece of plastic, and its consequences, are rapidly changing, in a way and manner not anticipated by the authorities.

Tipped off by a message in an amateurrailfans group (IRFCA)) and prodded by a couple of anecdotal experiences, this is what we discovered about the widespread misuse of PAN card data. If you are using it to book Tatkal tickets, then you have to provide the number. This number then reflects on the booking chart, which is displayed openly on the carriage, at the departure station and elsewhere.

In some cities and states, hotels demand copies of PAN cards. Similarly, if running up huge bills at restaurants, and paying in cash—you can be asked for a PAN card. Then at jewelers, second-hand car dealers, property brokers, landlords, tenants, and many more entities, they all want a copy of your PAN card. Travel agents and visa facilitation centres are also not averse to asking for this detail.

All this is fine in normal situations. But if you have ever seen determined looking young men taking down details of name, age, gender and origin/destination, along with the PAN card number, from railway reservation charts, know that they are paid anything between Rs5 and Rs10 per detail collected. And if you have ever received strange phone calls or telegrams/emails from weird people after applying for a visa, then it worries you even more. Very often they appear to have copies of all the documents you placed with the visa centres.

This PAN card number then becomes a tool for benami transactions in a variety of hands. And it appears that this problem is growing very rapidly. Including, it seems, with credit cards issued, new cars purchased, or similar.

What happens, then, if you are a victim of PAN card identity theft, and data emerges which shows you as having transacted a vast amount of  money somewhere? Which may also match with your actual travel?

#  From the trader's point of view, a penalty of Rs10,000 per wrong PAN card information provided can be levied and so it becomes incumbent on the trader to try to ensure that correct data is collected and provided, preferably with an additional identity proof.

#   From the tax-paying PAN card holder's point of view, if despite checking the Form 26AS online some benami transactions take place, and you do not spot it till it is too late, then the Income Tax department will ask the PAN card holder to prove that he did not carry out the transcation. The Income Tax department can also ask the PAN card holder to explain the source of the funds used. Resolution can take years.

#  From the non-tax-paying PAN card holder's point of view, there may not even be the option of checking Form 26AS online, and the first he will come to know is when he receives a notice from the Income Tax department. Again, the common man suffers and God help you if somebody takes a dislike towards you.

Obviously, the quoting of a PAN card for cash transactions is not a fool-proof method and needs to be fine-tuned some more. That is for the finance ministry to consider and implement and one method would be to insist that additional steps like signed photocopy of PAN card, signed photocopy of additional identity document and possibly video/photo record of the transaction be retained by traders/customers taking part in high-value cash transactions.

On your part, try not to use the PAN card as an identity document or for other casual transactions, and have control over photocopies given out.
Col N Viswanathan


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

India's opposition rules out major change to nuke policy

The head of India's opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), tipped to win ongoing national elections, has ruled out any change in the country's "no-first-use" nuclear weapons policy.

NEW DELHI: The head of India's opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), tipped to win ongoing national elections, has ruled out any change in the country's "no-first-use" nuclear weapons policy.The BJP sparked speculation about an end to the doctrine last week when its manifesto said that the party would "revise and update" India's policy."The no-first-use policy for nuclear weapons was a well thought out stand... We don't intend to reverse it," BJP President Rajnath Singh told the Hindustan Times newspaper in an interview published Monday.The policy was adopted after a series of nuclear tests in 1998 during the last BJP-led coalition government which led to international condemnation and an embargo being placed on the country by Western powers.The policy was intended to gain India greater acceptability as a nuclear power, despite it not being a signatory of the 1970 UN Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty which aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.The BJP is predicted to clinch power under elections which began on April 7 and end with results on May 16.Any BJP government under hardline prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, a proud nationalist promising strong leadership, is expected to have a more muscular foreign policy.Any change in nuclear policy would be of most significance to India's rivals Pakistan and China.Neither reacted to news of the possible review and analysts have pointed out that the "no-first-use" policy is a mere promise that could be ignored by New Delhi in a conflict situation.China was the first country to adopt the "no-first-use" nuclear policy in 1964, but nuclear-rival Pakistan, with whom India has fought three wars, does not have a similar position.
Army chief reviews security situation in Jammu region
Jammu, April 13 (IANS) Indian army chief, Gen. Bikram Singh, on Saturday visited the headquarters of a division here to review the security situation and interact with local field commanders, a defence spokesman said.
"Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Bikram Singh visited the Satwari cantonment in Jammu as part of his visit to Jammu and Kashmir today. He was received and briefed on the current situation by the general officer commanding (GOC)," the spokesman said.
The army chief reviewed the security situation and interacted with field commanders of Tiger division before concluding his two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, he added.Gen. Singh had arrived here Friday. He visited the Udhampur headquarters of the northern command where its chief, Lt.Gen. Sanjiv Chachra briefed him about the overall security situation in the state and the welfare measures being taken for the assistance of the general public and ex-servicemen.

Indian army, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited jointly created oil infrastructure in West Kameng

GUWAHATI: Indian army and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) has jointly created oil infrastructure with tankages in West Kameng in India's frontier state of Arunachal Pradesh. Army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Suneet Newton said the project is a symbol of joint national effort on part of the Public Sector undertaking and Army to develop infrastructure and facilities in the Northeast. 
The facility, for storage of all types of oils and lubricants and for bulk distributio .. 

Official: India Will Need To Hike Defense Spending by 30% To Narrow Gap With China

Indian Army personnel keep vigilance at Bumla pass at the India-China border. Raising a new Mountain Corp for the Chinese border is part of India's plans to close its military gap with China. (Biju Boro / Agence France-Presse)

NEW DELHI — Indian defense planners will need to hike defense spending by at least 30 percent for about 10 years to narrow the military differences between India and China, said an Indian Army official.China spends over $100 billion on defense annually, about triple that of India’s more than $33 billion.India will spend $150 billion in the next 10 years on new weapons from overseas and domestic sources, the Indian Army official. However, boosting spending 30 percent would require an additional $50 billion.Given the current state of the Indian economy with an annual growth of less than 5 percent and a high fiscal deficit, the government will find it very difficult to find the additional money, said Nitin Mehta, defense analyst here.The Army will need an additional $10 billion for the newly established Mountain Core of 80,000 troops to be deployed along the Chinese border. The Mountain Core, named 17 Corps, is planned to be raised in seven years.India’s strategy of being able to fight China and Pakistan simultaneously will be difficult to achieve because of its slow pace of weapons acquisition, adds Mehta,India will need to spend more than $6 billion on roads and related infrastructure in the next five years along the Chinese border, said the Indian Army official.An MoD official said long-term purchase plans include buying night vision devices worth over $7 billion for more than 3,000 tanks and 1,900 combat vehicles. The military also will add aviation assets worth more than $3 billion in the next five to seven years.Mahindra Singh, retired Indian Army major general and defense analyst, said that given the Defence Ministry’s track record in purchasing weapons and equipment through open competition, it was necessary to buy on a government-to- government basis.To equip the Mountain Corps, the Army will need to buy about 700 light armored multipurpose vehicles, around 1,000 light strike vehicles, about 50 command post vehicles for reconnaissance and special operation, ultra light howitzers, a variety of UAVs and to weaponize existing UAVs, the Army official said.A variety of reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition systems, greater firepower, and improved mobility will be needed along the Chinese border, Singh said. ■Email:

Overtly or covertly, we have to act

fidayeen style raid on March 28 on an Indian Army camp in Dyala Chak (Photo: PTI)
Atrans-border fidayeen style raid on March 28 on an Indian Army camp in the Dyala Chak belt of Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua district, within almost hailing distance of the Indo-Pak border, resulted in the closing down of National Highway 1A (NH1A) for over 10 hours. NH1A is the main link between Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of the country and the attack was another reminder of its vulnerability. It was also a warning that the apparent calm along the Jammu-west Punjab stretch of the international border is, in reality, superficial, and that the security environment vis-a-vis Pakistan is as brittle as ever.
Army men in Khrew village of Pulwama district after the militant attack on Sunday. Tribune photo: Amin War
NH1A remains as vulnerable to interdiction today as it was in 1947, when Indian troops first moved into the Jammu region over what was then a kachcha track to beat back mobs of armed irregulars intruding from Pakistan.
On its part, Pakistan has often proclaimed that it considers the Jammu-Pakistan stretch of the international border as a “working boundary” whose ultimate alignment is yet to be finalised and linked it with settlement of the “Kashmir issue” to Pakistan’s satisfaction. In effect, Pakistan treats the Jammu-Pakistan border as an extension of the Line of Control which can be violated at will without inviting serious repercussions from India. This places the Jammu-Pakistan border almost at par with the Line of Control as a hotspot in Indo-Pak relations.
In Pakistan, behind the recently erected façade of “civilianisation”, the Army continues to be the ultimate authority. It controls strategic policy against India. It has chosen the politico-military ideology of jihad to launch a long war against India by incorporating Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. It is likely that members of these organisations were involved in the Dyala Chak attack.
Though the Indo-Pak international border in this sector is fenced and guarded by the Border Security Force and internally policed by J&K police, the Pathankot-Jammu stretch of NH1A — India’s “Western Chicken’s Neck” — will continue to be as vulnerable as always to small determined groups of suicide attackers from across the border. Recall the attacks in Kaluchak in 2008 and Samba in 2013.
The key to preventing such attacks lies, as always, in timely acquisition of actionable intelligence followed by proactive offensive action to eliminate terrorist networks. Current efforts by India’s intelligence and security agencies are obviously inadequate. India’s border security and counter-terrorism networks remain on the backfoot often due to lack of intelligence and early warning.
Such a situation is unacceptable and has to be fixed to the satisfaction of both governments. Joint efforts between India and Pakistan to curb terrorism, cross-border or otherwise, should be encouraged even though prospects of any dramatic breakthrough do not look bright at present. Simultaneously, a more proactive policy of pre-emptive, clandestine action against known terrorists and bases within India and even outside should also be considered.
Dyala Chak is merely the latest demonstration of how armed infiltrators can transgress Indian borders and reach deep into the Indian territory. Is there a possibility that the Dyala Chak terrorists — or at least some of them — might not have come from across the border, but were from sleeper cells within the country? Such a possibility, though not supported by concrete evidence at present, would raise a chain of sensitive and disturbing corollaries about the possible presence of local sympathisers — a fairly common situation in all the border states in the country, especially J&K. The issue of local support for trans-border infiltrators is pure political napalm. It is a minefield which investigative agencies have to negotiate very carefully to find their way forward.
Too much has already been conjured up by vicious and unsubstantiated innuendoes and insinuations in the highly inflammable pre-election climate. Nevertheless, national security demands preparation for a counter strategy to forestall trans-border fidayeen attacks, which, if nothing else, show up the country as an inefficient, ineffective, bumbling banana republic.
The building blocks and tools to implement such a counter strategy in terms of personnel, experience, equipment, as well as legal provisions are already available, albeit strewn around haphazardly in government pigeonholes in myriad departments. Additional policies may have to be developed as necessary, but will require, money and political will.
No doubt it is a difficult strategy, as it requires treading a fine and almost invisible line in realpolitik. Also, diplomatically it is indefensible and bad in the eyes of international law. But so are fidayeen raids across international borders, even when done the cloak of plausible deniability, as Pakistan has been doing with brazen impunity.
So in the final analysis, can India invoke self-defence to justify covert action targeting terrorists outside the country's borders? Or are our principles, based on international law and Nehruvian Panchsheel ideology, in conflict with the compulsions of state? India has to take a call, because time is running out, fast.

Tribune News Service
Baru says while there was some criticism on the Prime Minister’s Siachen proposal in India, the fact is that he pursued this idea only after consulting every retired Army General who had actually commanded troops at Siachen. A file photo
New Delhi, April 14
Quality of military leadership was an issue that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had to contend with, his former aide disclosed in a tell-all book, underscoring that besides opposition from political leaders within the government the varying stance of the then Army Chief General Joginder Jaswant Singh, currently holding a gubernatorial post, led to stalemate on Siachen.
Manmohan’s initiative
Referring to the attempts by the Prime Minister to follow-up on his June 2005 declaration that Siachen Glacier would be a "symbol of peace" rather than conflict, former Media Adviser to Prime Minister Sanjaya Baru in his book "The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh" said the option to demilitarise the battlefield occupied by both India and Pakistan since 1984 was the last in the series of steps envisaged by both sides through track-2.
The first step would be to make the Line of Control (LoC) just a "line on a map", the second would be to strengthen local self-government on both sides of the LoC and the third step would entail creation of "joint or cooperative institutions" under the charge of Kashmiri leaders to coordinate polices on matters of common interest. "If all this worked and peace was restored, then the fourth and final element of the peace formula would be "agreed withdrawal" of troops from both sides.
Baru says while there has been some criticism on the Prime Minister's Siachen proposal in India, the fact is that he pursued this idea only after consulting every retired Army General who had actually commanded troops at Siachen. "Each one of them had been witness to the tragic deaths of soldiers and the huge expense of the operation. All of them supported the Prime Minister's decision to find a final solution to the problem of Kashmir and Siachen," the book said
The author says while the Prime Minister wanted former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to own and propagate the Kashmir peace formula, he was quite willing to sell this as a "Musharraf formula" rather than a Manmohan-Musharraf formula.
"He believed at the time that it would be tougher for Musharraf to sell the peace formula in Pakistan than for him to get majority opinion in India on his side....In Pakistan, Musharraf would have to deal with political parties, religious groups and the army, the Prime Minister felt that in India there would be a wider constituency of support, including large sections of the Congress, several regional parties and the Left. He thought the only real opposition would come from the BJP," Baru said.
‘Underestimated resistance from within’
However, Baru said, "The Prime Minister perhaps underestimated likely resistance from within his own part. Pranab Mukherjee and AK Antony, as successive defence ministers in the UPA-1, were reportedly not enthusiastic about a deal on Siachen, though Sonia had blessed the peace formula. The Armed forces were ambivalent, with the retired General who had served in Siachen favouring a deal to end the agony of the troops serving in that inhospitable terrain, but the serving General was not willing to trust Pakistan on a deal," the book said.
‘Had to fight declining quality of defence services’
Adding to the woes was the stand of the then Army Chief.
"The Prime Minister had to also contend with a declining quality of defence services leadership, which has since become all too visible. For me, the first sign of this decline was evident in the manner in which former Army Chief General JJ Singh dealt with the Siachen issue.”
“In closed-door briefings, the General would say a deal with Pakistan was doable, but in public he would back Antony when the defence minister chose not to back the PM... I was never sure whether Antony's hawkish stance was because he genuinely disagreed with the Siachen initiative or whether he was merely toeing the Nehru-Gandhi family line that would not allow the PM to be the one finally normalising relations with Pakistan. After all, the Kashmir problem had its roots in Nehru’s policies. Both Indira and Rajiv tried to solve it and failed. Would Sonia, who backed the peace initiative with Pakistan, finally allow the Prime Minister to resolve this legacy of history and enter the history books? I remained a skeptic. I felt she would wait till Rahul became PM so that he could claim credit," he says.
Tributes paid to 1971 war martyrs
Fazilka, April 14
The Indian Army, families of martyrs and civilians paid tributes to the martyrs of 1971 India-Pakistan war at the War Memorial in Asafwala, 7 km from here, today to mark Baisakhi.
The jawans of the 4 Jat Regiment led by Dharam Guru Suresh Chander; Khema Ram, brother of martyr Ishwar Singh from Jhunjhnu (Rajasthan); Jai Lal, brother of martyr Khannaya Lal from Hisar (Haryana); and Vinod Kumar, brother of martyr Mange Ram from Bhiwani (Haryana); and members of the Shaheedon Ki Samadhi Committee, Fazilka, who has been looking after the memorial affairs, laid wreaths at the memorial. A “havan” was performed followed by a two-minute silence.
After the ceasefire in the 1971 war, the mortal remains of 82 jawans of the 4 Jat Regiment were cremated by civilians by constructing a 90-feet-long pyre.
The residents formed the Shaheedon Ki Samadhi Committee and, later, raised a memorial at the cremation site. Since then, the Army jawans of the 4 Jat Regiment, irrespective of their posting in the country, come to Fazilka to pay tributes to them on Baisakhi. — OC
New Delhi, April 14
Frequent arguments between two senior officials in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was one of the low points of functioning inside the premises of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), besides jostling for chambers, according to former Media Adviser to PM Sanjaya Baru.
In his book "The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh", Baru wrote about the turf war between National Security Adviser (NSA) JN 'Mani' Dixit and MK Narayanan, special adviser for internal security, and also how retired Punjab cadre IAS officer TKA Nair was not the PM's first choice for the all-important post of Principal Secretary to PM.
The author notes that Nair's name was backed by a friend of Prime Minister's family, Rashpal Malhotra, chairman of the Chandigarh-based Centre for Research on Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) with PM having been its chairman and Nair, a member of its governing body.
Showdown between NSA, Internal Security Adviser
Recalling an incident of a showdown between the NSA and Internal Security Adviser, Baru wrote: "Mani and Narayanan would often explode into angry arguments in the presence of PM. On one occasion, both spoke against each other's assessment of work done with the author noting that the outbursts in part reflected a turf war between the two with Narayanan seeking greater control of the intelligence agencies than Dixit wanted him to have."
"The Prime Minister would sit through such altercations with a worried look. But on one occasion, it got a bit too much even for a man as patient as him. While Mani and Narayanan were arguing vociferously in his presence, Dr Singh at first kept quiet and then got up abruptly, looking visibly irritated. That was a signal that the meeting was over and we all could leave," the author said.
Later, the author said, he walked into his room and sought to cheer him up pointing out that it was good to have different points of view being aired as this would allow the PM to decide which view to take. He also narrated similar differences between Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Deepak Nayyar in the Ministry of Finance or even by officials who worked for Jawaharlal Nehru or Indira Gandhi. "After hearing me out, he smiled, and said, I am not sure they all shouted at each other," he wrote. The book also takes potshots at Narayanan, who later succeeded Dixit as the NSA and is currently the Governor of West Bengal.
He said a former Chief of Intelligence Bureau, Narayanan's favourite line was "I have a file on you" and used it, humorously, with ministers, officials, journalists and others he met. "He seemed to derive great pleasure in letting me know that he kept a tab on the credit-card spending of influential editors. On long flights in the PM's aircraft, he would regale us with stories about how various prime ministers had summoned him for information on their colleagues," Baru said.
‘PM resisted temptation to spy on his colleagues’
However, the author notes that the Prime Minister not only resisted this temptation to spy on his colleagues, but also gave up the opportunity to be offered such information by declining to take a daily briefing from the intelligence chiefs and was the first Prime Minister not to do so. The chiefs of IB and Research and Analysis wing were told to report to the NSA instead.

Bejing is No 2 with expenditure up by 7.4%; India at 9th spot: SIPRI
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, April 14
The US, probably for the first time since World War II (1939-45), cut its military spending in 2013. China’s spending increased by 7.4 per cent last year, says an internationally respected think-tank.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in its report “Trends in World Military Expenditure 2013” released globally today has laid out the military expenditure by the topmost countries in the world. The world, as a whole, spent $1,747 billion on building its military muscle last year -- a decline of 1.9 per cent. There was only one change in the world’s top 15 military spenders -- Canada dropped out and was replaced by Turkey, said the report. “China’s spending increased by 7.4 per cent,” the report said, adding Beijing spent $180 billion on its military.
The US, China and Russia were the top spenders followed by Saudi Arabia and France. India was at the ninth spot, one lower than what it was in 2012.
China, says the SIPRI report, has been behaving more assertively in recent years in its territorial disputes with Japan in the East China Sea, and with the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea.
The Chinese military spending represents a long-term policy of rising military spending in line with economic growth. Saudi Arabia is now the fourth biggest spender, beating France and the United Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia, the largest spender in the region, increased spending by 14 per cent to reach a total of $67 billion in 2013. It climbed from seventh to fourth place -- edging out the UK from the top five. The kingdom has the highest spending as a share of its GDP -- 9.3 per cent.
The military expenditure in the Middle East has increased by 4 per cent in 2013 and 56 per cent between 2004 and 2013 -- to reach an estimated $150 billion. Iraq and Bahrain have registered hikes in military spending. “Military spending by the USA declined by 7.8 per cent in 2013 -- to $640 billion -- probably for the
first time since World War II,” the SIPRI report says.
It attributed the fall to the $20 billion reduction in outlays for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) - that mean the overseas military operations chiefly in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Trends in world military expenditure
  • The US, China and Russia are the top spenders followed by Saudi Arabia and France
  • There was only one change in the world’s top 15 military spenders -- Canada dropped out and was replaced by Turkey
  • The world, as a whole, spent $1,747 billion on building its military muscle last year -- a decline of 1.9 per cent.

It is pointless to debate Article 370
 Arun Joshi
Tribune News Service
The two Kashmir-centric parties, National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party, are unnecessarily getting edgy about Article 370, which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir, despite knowing that this is a temporary provision in the Constitution. They have engaged themselves in a debate on the contentious provision in the Constitution and have started selling the theory that if this Article goes then the state’s whole relationship with India would have to be revisited.
The BJP’s reference to a debate and discussion to “abrogate” the Article in its manifesto released recently has made the two parties whip up passions as if this temporary provision was something sacrosanct, which could not be touched.
Former Chief Minister and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah know that Article 370 has already been eroded so much that the Centre is having most of its laws extended to J&K. In fact, much of the erosion took place during the NC and Congress parties’ rule in the state. The two parties have ruled the state since Independence.
Under the instructions of the Centre, Jammu and Kashmir was the first state to have the Prevention of Terrorism and Ordinance (POTO) in 2001, which later became POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act). In 2004, the state government then jointly ruled by the PDP and the Congress could not pass the “Permanent Resident (Disqualification) Bill, again on the directions of the Congress high command.
And, way back during the campaign in the 1983 Assembly elections when the National Conference was locked in a stiff fight against the Congress, then Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah had stated at a rally in Parade Ground in Jammu that “there is no need to talk about Article 370, it will die its own death as it is a temporary provision in the Constitution”.
The issue is that the NC had asked for discussion on the autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir after the state legislature passed a resolution seeking greater autonomy for the state as it existed before August 9, 1953, when NC founder and first Prime Minister of Jammu Kashmir Sheikh Abdullah was deposed. The NC is still talking of the “debate and discussion” on the autonomy after the NDA government summarily rejected it.
Farooq and Omar have said the autonomy report can be discussed and there can be a debate on what to retain and what to discard from the pre-1953 position, when the state had its control over all affairs, barring defence, communication and foreign affairs. The state also had the titles of “Sadr-e-Riyasat” for the head of the state and “Prime Minister” for the head of the government.
A close reading of Article 370, which defines the relationship between the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir, show that there are two separate issues involved in this.
There is no disputing the fact that J&K acceded to India in October 1947 as did the other princely states of the country. Former Sadr-e-Riyasat of the state Karan Singh has repeatedly stated that the Instrument of Accession that his father Maharaja Hari Singh signed was like similar Instruments of Accession signed by other states.
His words can be considered as final because he was privy to what was happening in the palace. He is the son of the last Dogra ruler of the state. The accession issue has to be seen in a different light. The Constitution and the history are clear on the issue. While the “accession” is final and irrevocable, Article 370 can cease to operate any time. It just requires one clear reading of the Article.
The clause 3 of Article 370 states: “The President may, by public notification, declare that this Article shall cease to be operative or shall be operative only with such exceptions and modifications and from such date as he may notify.”
The BJP’s game plan to provoke a strong reaction on this contentious issue has succeeded. The NC and PDP have deliberately responded to the provocation .This is a clear attempt to divert attention from the real issues. That is what the political class here loves the most.
he house in the Ahmad Nagar area of Srinagar where an encounter took place between security forces and militants on Monday. Two Lashkar-e-Toiba militants were killed and four policemen injured in the gunfight. Tribune Photo: Amin War
Kejriwal beats Modi, Rahul in prime time TV news coverage
New Delhi, April 14
In yet another example of David beating Goliath, Aam Aadmi Party supremo Arvind Kejriwal has secured the highest coverage in TV news during prime time, followed by BJP's Narendra Modi and Congress' Rahul Gandhi in early days of elections, according to a study.
The study, by CMS Media Lab after analysing five top news channels, shows that while Kejriwal has received 429 minutes or 28.19 per cent of the time given during 8-10 PM from March 1 to 15, BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate has secured 356 minutes (23.98 per cent).
The Gandhi family scion has received 72 minutes of coverage (4.76 per cent), followed by RJD's Lalu Prasad Yadav at 46 minutes (3.05 per cent) and MNS founder Raj Thackeray at 33 minutes (2.20 per cent), the study says about the news coverage of these top leaders.
The channels used for the study were -- Aaj Tak, ABP News, Zee News, NDTV 24X7 and CNN IBN.
"Rahul Gandhi has received 6 times and 5 five less coverage as compared to Kejriwal and Modi respectively... The coverage demolished popular myth of 2014 Lok Sabha elections that Modi is media and media is Modi... as Arvind Kejriwal toppled Narendra Modi in news coverage," CMS Media Lab said.
JDU senior leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar secured sixth slot with 2.01 per cent of news coverage, followed by TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at seventh (1.67 per cent) and Samajwadi Party chairperson Mulayam Yadav at eighth rank (1.65 per cent). — PTI

Bhattal replaces Amarinder as Punjab poll campaign chiefAditi Tandon
Tribune News Service
Rajinder Kaur Bhattal (L) is poll campaign chief; SS Dullo is coordination panel head
Rajinder Kaur Bhattal (L) is poll campaign chief; SS Dullo is coordination panel head
New Delhi, April 14
Fifteen days to go for the Lok Sabha elections in Punjab, the Congress today appointed former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal chairman of the Punjab election campaign committee and Jagmeet Brar, former MP, the committee’s co-chair.
To boost canvassing, the Congress also constituted the election coordination committee naming former party chief SS Dullo its chairperson and permanent invitee Lal Singh as co-chair.
In the 2009 polls, Capt Amarinder Singh was in charge of the state election campaign. Congress leaders today said they consciously decided this time to spare contestants and get senior non-contesting leaders instead to handle canvassing in the state.
Campaigning blues have been reported by several official Lok Sabha candidates in the state with many MLAs yet to campaign for them in their respective areas.
Manpreet Badal, Congress candidate from Bathinda, is also said to be eager that the top party leadership campaigned for him. So far, he has been waging a lone battle in a seat held by Punjab Deputy Chief Minister’s wife Harsimrat Badal.
Amarinder is locked in a high-stakes poll battle with BJP’s Arun Jaitley in Amritsar. That is why he has been excused from the campaign committee chairmanship this time. Nationally, both Congress chief Sonia Gandhi
and vice-chief Rahul, despite being candidates, are heading the party's campaign panel.
The appointments come a day after the Congress directed Punjab legislators to campaign for Lok Sabha candidates in their segments instead of parking outside the state.
Prominent absentees from the two committees (38 member campaign panel and 14 member coordination panel) are Information Minister Manish Tewari, who was excused from defending his Ludhiana Lok Sabha seat due to ill health; former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, being used by the Congress already to canvass for state Congress chief Partap Bajwa, contesting from Gurdaspur; MoS Health Santosh Choudhary; AICC secretary Ashwani Sekhri; Punjab Congress vice-presidents Kewal Dhillon, TS Soond, OP Soni, GS Kangar, CD Kambhoj, SPS Sibia and SS Bandala.
Congress general secretary in charge of Punjab Shakeel Ahmed told The Tribune today, “No contesting candidate (read Amarinder) has been named in the committees. We have roped in non-contesting leaders to build a united campaign and sustain the visible edge for the Congress.” Ahmed said Manish wasn’t named as he is heading Congress communications centrally. Importantly, though Amarinder-baiters Bhattal and Jagmeet Brar will chair the Congress poll campaign committee in Punjab between themselves, Captain’s confidant Surinder Singla will be its convener.
Another interesting appointment is that of Amar Singh as convener of the poll coordination committee. Amar Singh was secretary to Congress stalwart Digvijay Singh when he was Madhya Pradesh CM.
A critical fact in the appointments is — only one (Channi), among four zonal vice-presidents whom Congress vice-chief Rahul Gandhi had appointed, have found a place, raising questions on their political utility in the state. Soond, Soni and Kangar are missing. Out of 14 vice-presidents of Punjab Congress, six have been roped in as members of the poll campaign panel.
EC seeks CD of Badal’s speech seeking funds Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, April 14
In a significant development, the Election Commission (EC) has sought from the Punjab Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) a recorded CD of the meeting in Jalandhar on Thursday wherein Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had reportedly asked industrialists to fund SAD-BJP candidate Pawan Kumar Tinu's campaign.
Sources said the CEO office received a call from the EC in the afternoon.
As a routine, the CEO forwards reports to the EC following feedback from the districts. But in this case, the EC has sought the CD directly before any report went from the CEO office.
The District Election Officer, Jalandhar, is also learnt to have received a copy of the reply from the Akali Dal in the evening. The SAD is learnt to have said: "Badal made the comment at the end of his speech during his interaction with industrialists only in a lighter vein. As such, he has not flouted any code of conduct".
The CD shows Badal to have said: "Parde naal davo, samane na davo (give secretly, not openly)."
He also said, "Tann, mann atte teeji ik gall hor vi hundi hai… oh tussi vi samjho, us vich vi maddad karo. Bada aukha kam hunda hai… karoran rupaiyya kharch hunda hai (besides physical and emotional support (for Tinu), there's a third thing too… please understand and help with it. Electioneering is a tough job and requires crores)."
School buses seized
The Hoshiarpur District Election Officer has sent notices to different schools from where at least 50 buses were deployed for ferrying public during Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal's rallies at different places on Saturday, it has been learnt.
BJP candidate Vijay Sampla has also been issued a notice. Election rallies were held at Dasuya, Mukarian and Hoshiarpur.
New initiative
The EC has launched a unique initiative of 'Electoral Roll Search Facility' to enable voters to search their names and polling stations in the nationwide electoral rolls.
This service could be availed through internet on mobiles, tablets or computers, and SMS through mobiles. A voter can, by typing his EPIC number, not only confirm his polling booth but also the way leading to that booth.
Ropar, April 14
Former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has denied describing SAD candidate from Anandpur Sahib Prem Singh Chandumajra as “chor” and “daku”.
Submitting her reply to a notice issued by the Election Commission (EC), Bhattal said she had “only mentioned about slogans “Chandu chor” and “Chandu daku” raised once against the Akali leader by the locals in Lehragaga”.
Addressing a rally in support of Congress candidate Ambika Soni in Ropar on April 7, Bhattal had reportedly said that the people in Lehragaga described Chandumajra as “Chandu daku” and “Chandu chor”. Objecting to her expression, the SAD had lodged a complaint with the EC, which issued a notice to Bhattal.
In the reply submitted to Ropar Deputy Commissioner-cum-Returning Officer PK Agrawal, Bhattal stated that she was against the use of derogatory language against anybody.
She alleged that Chandumajra had used derogatory remarks against her at Lehragaga in the past, and that the people there resented by describing him “Chandu daku” and “Chandu chor”. She said she had only mentioned that incident while addressing the rally. She also wrote that she would abstain from citing the example in future.
FAITH: Bollywood actress Kirron Kher pays obeisance at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on Monday. Photo: Vishal Kumar

Asks Election Commission to include Jaitley’s house cost in his poll expenses Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service
Amritsar, April 14
Former Chief Minister and Congress candidate Capt Amarinder Singh today served a legal notice on BJP leader Subramanian Swamy for his “malicious statements”, alleging that his wife and son had foreign bank accounts and that he had not mentioned these details in the affidavit filed with the Returning Officer at the time of filing his nomination papers.
In the legal notice, Amarinder has asked Swamy to tender an unconditional public apology, withdrawing the “false allegations” made against him. The notice reads: "The statements made by Swamy, individually as well as collectively, constitute deliberate malicious representations by him, impinging upon Amarinder's character, integrity and honesty.
"The false statements of far-reaching import, so lightly made by you, have directly caused untold harm and damage to the name, reputation and public image of my client, especially given the ongoing elections in the parliamentary constituency of Amritsar, Punjab.”
Amarinder today filed a complaint with the Election Commission (EC), seeking to include the cost of the house purchased by his BJP rival, Arun Jaitley, in his poll expenditure since it was “aimed at garnering support from the people as they have been considering him as an outsider”.
The complaint, filed through his election agent Karanpal Singh Sekhon, says: “The said house has been purchased by Arun Jaitley as part of his election campaign, in what he perceives is a fulfillment of a promise made during his campaign speeches to the electorate of Amritsar.
“The house has been purchased as an integral part of his campaign efforts and strategy to establish to the electorate of Amritsar that he is not ‘an outsider’ and so this ought not to be an impediment in their mind should they choose to vote for him.”
The complaint points out that party symbols, flags and other material being affixed to such house would show that it has been specifically purchased and is being used for such election purpose and campaign.
Suggesting that the actual cost of the house should be much more than Rs 1 crore, the complaint says: “This 340-square yard five-bedroom house in Green Avenue, one of the posh colonies of Amritsar, merits verification as the market value may be many times more.”
Referring to the EC limit on poll expenditure (Rs 70 lakh), the complaint says since Jaitley has admitted in the public domain that he has purchased the house for Rs 1 crore (the actual value may be higher), he cannot be permitted to spend further on his campaign.


Candidates shift focus to urban areas 

Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service
Mohali, April 14
Residents greet SAD candidate Prem Singh Chandumajra at Phase XI in Mohali. A Tribune photograph
With the setting in of the harvesting season, Lok Sabha candidates have shifted their focus from rural areas to urban parts here. Congress candidate Ambika Soni and Shiromani Akali Dal candidate Professor Prem Singh Chandumajra from the Anandpur Sahib constituency are trying hard to finish their election campaigning in the rural areas in a day or two.
The reason: the rural folk are now busy in harvesting the crop at their fields and are not available for election meetings and rallies.
Ambika Soni, whose election campaign has entered the second round, said she wanted to cover all the villages in the constituency before Baisakhi.
“We have almost completed our target and now we are going to focus on towns and cities,” said Soni, while talking to Chandigarh Tribune.
Now, she has started holding meetings at various points in Mohali town.
Similarly, Simran Chandumajra, son of Professor Prem Singh Chandumajra, said out of a total of 1,800 villages in the constituency, they have covered around 1,725 villages.
“A few villages have been left. They will be covered in a day or two. Then, our teams will shift their focus on the urban areas. In fact, my father (Chandumajra) has already started his campaigning in cities, particularly in Mohali town,” said Simran Chandumajra.
He said the time had come to intensify the campaigning in the urban sector.
“All parties and their supporters know that after Baisakhi no one will be available in villages but we will continue to go to the rural areas till the campaigning ends,” said Ajit Singh Bhambra, Mohali district president of the Aam Aadmi Party.
Mohali, April 14
Residents of Sector 79 here have decided to extend their support to Prem Singh Chandumajra, who is contesting the Lok Sabha elections from the Anandpur Sahib constituency as the SAD-BJP candidate.
A meeting of the residents was held at the residence of Lt Commander Gurdev Singh Deol where discussions regarding the shortcomings were held. In the meeting, the residents said only the SAD-BJP combine in the state could look into their problems.
The residents brought the problems of the sector to the notice of Balwinder Kaur, wife of Chandumajra, who attended the meeting called by the residents.
She assured the residents that most of the problems would be sorted out soon after the elections. She said additional development works would be carried out for making the life of the people more comfortable.
Pay for misuse of water Beginning today, MC teams to crack down on defaulters, impose fine of Rs 2,000Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, April 14
From tomorrow onwards, city residents who are caught wasting potable water by watering lawns, washing cars and courtyards during the morning hours will be challaned and fined Rs 2,000 by the municipal corporation (MC). Repeated violations will invite strict action and the water connection of such violators will be disconnected.
Due to an increase in the demand for water during the summer, the MC has decided to impose this restriction on the use of water from April 15 to June 30 during the morning hours.
An MC official said teams had been constituted to keep a check on washing of cars and watering of lawns. “The teams will visit different sectors to check wastage of water, if any. Those found violating the orders will be fined Rs 2,000,” the official said.
The penalty amount will be added to the water bill of the resident concerned. The official said the MC would also confiscate the booster pumps or hosepipes used by defaulters.
Besides, wastage of water due to overflowing overhead tanks or from underground water tanks and leakages in water meter chambers and water coolers will also attract a fine. “The house owner will be issued a notice by the MC for rectifying the problem within two days, failing which a fine of Rs 2,000 will be slapped,” the MC official said. Repeated violation of the order once the challan is issued will lead to the disconnection of the water supply. “No separate notice will be issued to the violator before the disconnection,” the official said.
Complaint numbers
Residents can register complaints regarding water misuse on 9872511246 (BK Dhawan, SDE, Public Health, and on 0172-5034179.
Water demand in summer
Chandigarh receives 87 mgd of water daily. However, during the summer, the demand goes up to 116 mgd.
MC TEAMS TO VISIT SECTORS MC teams to visit different sectors to check violations, if any
 A fine of Rs 2,000 to be imposed for each violation
 Water supply to be disconnected in case of repeated violations