Sanjha Morcha

GREAT MOVE BY PUNJAB GOVT ::INCREASES WORKING DAYS ::: AKALI’S HOLIDAY BONANZA ENDS

Govt cuts holidays to half in 2018, Akalis seek rollback

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 28

The state government has decided to reduce the number of gazetted holidays for calendar year 2018 to enable better public service to the citizens and also to ensure more teaching days in educational institutions.“With this reform, state government offices will remain open for 21 more days in 2018 compared to 2017. At the same time, government employees will be able to avail more restricted holidays than previously — in keeping with their preferences,” said a spokesman.The state government has declared 18 gazetted holidays and 39 restricted holidays for 2018. Government employees will now be eligible to avail five restricted holidays compared to two restricted holidays earlier.The spokesman said the state government has tried to strike a balance between its commitment to bettering public service and more teaching days in educational institutions on the one hand and the requirements of its employees to avail holidays on the other.“Now, the number of gazetted holidays in Punjab (only 18) are comparable to the number of holidays by the Government of India which has declared 17 gazetted holidays for 2018,” he said.For 2017, the state government had declared 37 gazetted and 20 restricted holidays. Employees were allowed two restricted holidays.The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), meanwhile, termed the Congress government’s decision to slash the list of holidays as a “totally dictatorial, irrational and insensitive” step taken without taking the other stakeholders into confidence. The party demanded its immediate rollback.In a statement here, SAD spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema said deleting occasions from the list like birth and martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh, Baisakhi, Mahashivratri, Parshuram Jayanti, May Day, martyrdom day of Udham Singh, Eid-Ul Zuha, martyrdom day of Guru Teg Bahadur and installation day of Guru Granth Sahib was wrong.Rejecting the state government’s “lame excuse” of providing better governance by slashing government holidays, the SAD leader said that the Amarinder government hasn’t even found time to complete its Cabinet strength by executing the much-needed expansion in the past nine months.


SGPC, akal Takht decry moveAmritsar: The SGPC and Akal Takht flayed the Capt Amarinder Singh government for scrapping holiday on Khalsa Sirjana Diwas. SGPC chief Gobind Singh Longowal said the occasion should again be brought on the list of gazetted holidays instead of the reserved list. He said the occasion carried utmost importance for the Sikh community. He, however, welcomed the gesture of Parliament of paying tributes to Guru’s Sahibzade. He said: “It was for the first time that Parliament paid homage to Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh along with their grandmother Mata Gujri.” tns


India should control its border troops: China

India should control its border troops: China
A Chinese soldier and an Indian soldier at the Nathu La border crossing. File photo

Beijing, December 28

Highlighting the Doklam standoff as its major achievement of international cooperation this year, the Chinese military on Thursday said India should “strictly control” its troops and implement border agreements to maintain peace and stability along the border.(Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)Chinese Defence Spokesman Col Ren Guoqiang said the highlights of his country’s international military cooperation in 2017 included handling ‘hotspot issues’ like Doklam.This year, under the unified deployment, the military has “resolutely” safeguarded China’s sovereignty and security interests, Col Ren told media here.The Chinese military has “played its due role in the handling of the hotspot issues such as the Sino-Indian confrontation in the Donglang (Doklam) area and safeguarded the China’s rights and interests in the South China Sea,” he said in response to a question.The Doklam standoff began on June 16 after the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) began building a road in area claimed by Bhutan. The Indian troops intervened to stop the road as it posed a security risk to Chicken Neck, the narrow corridor connecting India with its north-eastern states.The standoff ended on August 28 following a mutual agreement under which China stopped the construction of the road and India withdrew its troops.The 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control between India and China covers from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh.When asked how Chinese military view its relations with its Indian counterpart in 2018 in the backdrop of the Doklam standoff, Col Ren said India should implement the border agreements and control its troops.”We hope the Indian side can earnestly implement the relevant agreements reached between the two sides on the border issue and strictly control its border defence troops and do more for the positive development of China-India military-to-military relationship,” he said.During the border talks, the first since the 73-day-long military standoff in Doklam, in Delhi on December 22 between National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi, both sides stressed the importance of maintaining peace and stability along the border, Ren said.”As far as we know both sides have agreed that it is important to maintain peace stability along India-China border and create favourable conditions for further development of bilateral relationship, which has provided a good environment and good momentum for the continued enhancement of China and India relationship,” he said.In terms of China and India military-to-military relationship, it is important to have strategic communication and push forward healthy development of ties between the two militaries, Col Ren said.”We hope Indian side walk towards the same direction as the Chinese side and both sides can push forward the development of the relationship and jointly maintain the peace and stability along the China-India border which is in the interest of both sides,” he said.About a recent incident in which an Indian drone crashed on the Chinese side in the Sikkim sector, Col Ren declined to reveal details and whether the parts of the drone recovered by Chinese troops have been handed back to India.”It is our position that India should have learnt lesson from the incident,” he said.On December 7, China had lodged a diplomatic protest with India claiming that an Indian drone has “intruded” into its airspace and crashed in the Sikkim section of the border which included Doklam.India has clarified that the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle had developed a technical snag and asked China to return it. — PTI 


Eighth Indo- Maldives joint military exercise concludes

Eighth Indo- Maldives joint military exercise concludes
Photo for representation only.

Bengaluru (Karnataka), December 29A closing ceremony to mark the culmination of 14 days joint training between the Indian Army and the Maldives National Defence Forces was held at Belgaum in Karnataka.The event was held at Maratha Light Infantry Regimental Centre on Thursday where the marching contingent of both the countries participated in the closing ceremony.Fly past done by the army aviation team, carrying flags of both the countries, was also a highlight of the closing ceremony.In addition to the formal march past, there were a number of cultural programs like Kalaripayattu by the Madras Regimental Centre, Malkhamb by the Maratha Light Infantry Regimental Centre, Khukri Combat Display by the Gorkhas and the Assam Regimental Centre showcasing their North East Warrior skills.The audience was also left mesmerised by the aerobic display by the Maratha Light Infantry Regimental Centre and Boduberu display by the Maldivian National Defence Forces.The grand ceremony culminated with a pipe and drum band night display by the sirmoor rifles.Brigadier Alok Khurana, the senior most military observer of the Indian Army said that the exercise has honed individual and collective professional skills of all participants by imbibing best practices of both the Armies and has served to reinforce the close ties of friendship between the two countries.He appreciated the team spirit, camaraderie and high motivation shown by the participants throughout these two weeks.Brigadier General Ali Zuhair, senior observer of the Maldivian National Defence Force addressed all participants and complimented them on the successful completion of the exercise.He also praised them for the high standards of professionalism displayed during conduct of the exercise and thanked the Indian Army in organising the training in a highly professional manner.The exercise has further enhanced the military relation and cooperation between the two forces. Both the contingents exchanged mementoes and resolved to continue this joint exercise in the future. — ANI.


Get used to drills, China tells Taiwan

BEIJING/TAIPEI: Taiwan will gradually get used to Chinese air force drills that encircle the island, China said on Wednesday, while Taiwan’s premier reiterated the self-ruled island’s desire for peaceful relations with its giant neighbour.

AFP■ File photo of Chinese J­20 stealth fighter jets.

China considers Taiwan to be its territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring what it views as a wayward province under Chinese control.

It has taken an increasingly hostile stance towards Taiwan since Tsai Ing-wen, from the island’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, won presidential elections last year and has stepped up its rhetoric and military exercises.

Beijing suspects her of pushing for the island’s formal independence, a red line for China. Tsai says she wants peace with China, but also that she will defend Taiwan’s security and way of life.

Chinese state media have given broad coverage to “island encirclement” exercises near Taiwan this month, including showing pictures of Chinese bomber aircraft with what they said was Taiwan’s highest peak, Yushan, visible in the background


Slain soldier’s family hails Army action against Pakistan

Slain soldier’s family hails Army action against Pakistan
Sepoy Pargat Singh.

Parveen Arora

Tribune News Service

Karnal, December 26

Family members of Sepoy Pargat Singh, who was killed on Saturday in a ceasefire violation in Keri sector in Rajouri district, have hailed the Indian Army action in which three soldiers of Pakistan Army have been killed.They urged the Indian Army and Union government to continue such kind of retaliation to take revenge of the supreme sacrifice of the Indian soldiers.“I have lost my son who had made supreme sacrifice for the country, but I do not want that mothers like me and wives like my daughter-in-law should suffer any more, so the Indian Army and the Union government should continue such retaliatory action till terrorism is uprooted,” said Sukhwinder Kaur, mother of Pargat Singh.Hailing the action taken by the Indian Army, she said, “I appreciate the reply by the Indian forces to Pakistan, but still there is a need of a stringent action.”“The action from our side should be continued. The government should give a free hand and should not stop the Indian Army from taking any kind of action against Pakistan,” she maintained.Raising anti-Pakistan slogans at his residence, Pargat’s son Yuvraj Singh showed his willingness to join Indian Army to take the revenge of his father. “I will join the Army and will take avenge my father’s killing,” said Yuvraj.Pargat Singh’s wife Ramanpreet Kaur said, “I appreciate the retaliation by my solider brothers as Pakistan deserves such kind of action. It understands the language of bullet and not love.”“I am proud of my husband’s sacrifice. He wanted to make Yuvraj a top official. I will send my son to the Army,” she said.


Martyr’s family hails action across border

Martyr’s family hails action across border
Ramanpreet Kaur holds a photograph of her husband Pargat Singh in Karnal on Tuesday. Tribune photo

Tribune News Service

Karnal, December 26

The family of Sepoy Pargat Singh, killed in ceasefire violation in the Keri sector of Rajouri on Saturday, today hailed the operation carried out by Indian forces in which four Pakistani soldiers were killed. They urged the Army and Centre to continue such retaliation to avenge the supreme sacrifice of soldiers.“I have lost my son, who has made the supreme sacrifice for the country. I do not want more mothers like me and wives like my daughter-law to suffer. The Army and Union government should continue surgical strikes till terrorism is wiped out,” said Pargat’s mother Sukhwinder Kaur.Hailing the Army action, she said, “I appreciate the reaction of Indian forces to Pakistan, but there still is need for stringent action against Pakistan. Action from our side should be continued. The government should give a free hand to the Army and not stop it from taking any action against Pakistan.”Raising anti-Pakistan slogans at his residence, Pargat’s son Yuvraj Singh showed his willingness to join the Army to avenge his father’s death. “I will join the Army and take revenge for my father’s sacrifice,” he told mediapersons.Pargat’s wife Ramanpreet Kaur echoed similar sentiments and appreciated the retaliatory action. She said, “I appreciate the retaliation by my solider brothers as Pakistan deserves such an action. It understands the language of the bullet instead of love. I am proud of my husband’s sacrifice. He wanted to make Yuvraj a top officer. I will send my son to the Army to avenge his father’s sacrifice.”


Govt’s duty to take care of Sepoy’s family: Abhay

Govt’s duty to take care of Sepoy’s family: Abhay
Leader of Opposition Abhay Chautala at the residence of Sepoy Pargat Singh in Ramba village of Karnal district on Wednesday. Tribune photo

Tribune News Service

Karnal, December 27

Leader of the Opposition Abhay Chautala today visited the house of Sepoy Pargat Singh, who was killed during a ceasefire violation in Keri sector of Rajouri district (J&K) on Saturday.Pargat had dual responsibilities — one towards the nation and second towards his family, the INLD leader said, adding that as Pargat was the sole breadwinner of the family, the government should provide all facilities to his family.Abhay was accompanied by party general secretary Brij Sharma, former Gharaunda MLA Narendra Sangwan, district INLD president Yashveer Rana and former youth district president Gurdev Ramba.He demanded of the government to make facilitate the admission of Pargat’s son Yuvraj Singh to an academy, so that he could get good education. “Yuvraj wants to serve the country like his father.”Earlier, while addressing a public meeting in Dadupur village, Abhay served an ultimatum on the state and the Central governments to construct remaining part of the SYL canal by February 23, failing which he said the INLD would organise a rally in New Delhi on March 7 to decide the future course of action.


92 soldiers committed suicide in 2017: MoS for Defence in Lok Sabha

92 soldiers committed suicide in 2017: MoS for Defence in Lok Sabha
Photo for representational purpose only. AFP

New Delhi, December 27

A total of 92 personnel from the three armed forces have committed suicide in 2017, with the Army having the highest number, Parliament was informed on Wednesday.

Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre told Lok Sabha, in a written reply, that as per the figures, two officers, and 67 Junior Commissioned Officers (JCO) and Other Ranks (OR) committed suicide in the Indian Army. The number of JCOs and ORs who committed suicide was 100 in 2016, 77 in 2015, and 82 in 2014.

Among the Army officers, there were four suicides in 2016, one in 2015 and two in 2014.

In the Navy, which has lowest suicide rate in the three services, there were no incidents of suicide among the officers in 2014, and 2015, while in 2016 and 2017 saw one suicide each. Among the sailors, there have been four suicides this year, five in 2016, three in 2015 and four in 2014.

In the Indian Air Force, three officers committed suicide in 2016, and two in 2014.

Among the airmen, there were 18 suicides this year, 16 in 2016, 14 in 2015, and 19 in 2014.

Bhamre said reasons for committing suicide include “family issues, domestic problems, marital discord, perceived grievances and personal issues”. — IANS


Armed forces facing shortage of nearly 60,000 personnel: Govt

Armed forces facing shortage of nearly 60,000 personnel: Govt
File photo for representation only.

New Delhi, December 27

The armed forces are facing a shortage of nearly 60,000 personnel with the Army topping the list with over 27,000 vacant posts, the government said on Wednesday.According to the details provided by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Lok Sabha, the total shortage of officers in the Army, Navy and the Indian Air Force is 9,259 while the number for below officer rank is 50,363.Replying to a question, she said the total strength of the Army as on July 1 is 12.37 lakh personnel against the authorised strength of 12.64 lakh and the total shortage is 27,864.The current strength of the Navy is 67,228 personnel and the number of vacant positions is 16,255.She said the Indian Air Force is facing a shortage of 15,503 personnel against the authorised strength of 1.55 lakh.The vacancies excluding personnel in dental and medical streams come to 59,622.“The recruitment in the armed forces is a continuous process. The government has taken a number of measures to reduce the shortages,” she said.Replying to a separate question, Sitharaman said MiG fighter jets of the IAF were involved in 10 accidents since 2014-15.“10 squadrons of IAF equipped with MiG 21 and MiG 27 aircraft are scheduled to retire by 2024 on completion of their total technical life,” she said.To another question, she said procurement of two more regiments of Akash missile system has been approved for the Army. — PTI


On the road to bankruptcy G Parthasarathy

On the road to bankruptcy
The catch: Sri Lanka has been forced to give China partial ownership of Hambantota.

G Parthasarathy

CHINA’S much-touted “Silk Roads” and “Maritime Silk Routes” trace their origin historically to its trade across Central Asia and the Indian Ocean. Interestingly, silk constituted a relatively small portion of Chinese trade, though it gave an exotic content to what was primarily commercial activity, in which China was the principal beneficiary. The Maritime Silk Route across the Indian Ocean was first set during the course of seven expeditions between 1404 and 1433 by a Chinese naval fleet headed by Admiral Zheng He, a Mongolian Muslim eunuch, appointed by Ming emperor Yongle. During the course of these expeditions to Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Calicut, Zheng brought back kings and princes to “kowtow” (genuflect) before the Ming emperor. Indonesia has ensured that it responds cautiously to Chinese inducements and avoids getting closely drawn into a Chinese embrace. Beijing, however, seems to have drawn Sri Lanka into its spiders’ web, taking advantage of the island’s economic vulnerabilities. One has to recall what Admiral Zheng did to the hapless island-nation after a visit to Calicut in 1406, to “get the Buddha’s tooth relic”. He returned to Sri Lanka in 1411 with a large army to take revenge for an earlier perceived insult. Parts of the island were plundered and the Sri Lankan king, Vira Alakeswara, taken back to Nanjing to kowtow before the emperor, together with the holy relic. The king was replaced by a “malleable” ruler. While the humiliated king was returned to his people a few years later, the relic was returned six centuries later in 1960, by PM Chou en Lai, as a gesture of “goodwill”, Chinese style. Chinese trade was historically as exploitative as trade by the British East India Company! Colombo is, nowadays, full of hoardings of China’s “magnanimity”, manifested in its “assistance” in infrastructure, industrial and construction projects. Beyond the Galle Main Road in Colombo is the $1.4 billion Port City Project to be filled with Chinese built, owned, or managed, luxury apartments, golf course, theme park, hotels and office buildings. All these projects will soon become part of Sri Lanka’s mounting official debt burdens and accentuate the already unbearable debt burden Colombo has accumulated, from earlier Chinese “aid”. The main instruments of this aid and plunder of natural resources are the China Communications Construction Company and its subsidiary, the China Harbour Engineering Company. World Bank has blacklisted both these companies across the world because of their corrupt practices, including bribery. The only well executed and profitable Chinese-built project in Sri Lanka is the Container Terminal in Colombo.Apart from the crushing debt burden of the Colombo Port City Project, Chinese projects located in President Rajapakse’s own constituency, Hambantota, have imposed an unsustainable debt burden on Sri Lanka. Given Western aversion for his regime and Indian doubts about the project’s viability, President Rajapakse welcomed Chinese “assistance” to develop his constituency. He sought and obtained Chinese “support” to heavily finance projects ranging from the Hambantota Port to a power plant, an airport, an industrial park, a cricket stadium and a sports complex. All these investments have proved uneconomical. Hardly any ships visit Hambantota Port, barely one aircraft lands at the airport daily and the sports facilities remain unutilised, even as local opinion was outraged by the proposed construction of an industrial park. Sri Lanka has been spending 90 per cent of government revenues to service debts. Unable to repay its debts to China, Sri Lanka has been forced to convert Chinese investments into equity in Hambantota, giving the Chinese partial ownership of the port. Following discreet Indian expressions of concern, Sri Lanka has retained operational control of the port, ensuring that Chinese submarines and warships do not freely berth there. Some pre-emptive action has also been taken to ensure that the eastern port of Trincomalee does not become the next port of interest for Chinese strategic ambitions, thanks to a timely initiative of Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. The Indian Oil Corporation has established a business presence in Sri Lanka for progressive involvement in the use of Trincomalee for import and processing of petroleum products. It is imperative to build on this by constructing a modern petroleum refinery on equitable terms in Trincomalee. China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Myanmar is primarily concentrated on developing the Bay of Bengal port of Kyaukpyu and connecting it to its neighbouring Yunnan province by oil and gas pipelines and road and rail networks. But, Myanmar is wary of overdependence on China, among other reasons, because of Beijing’s insatiable quest for environmentally damaging energy projects and its yearning for access to precious metals and stones. Myanmar may, however, find it difficult to resist Chinese pressures on such projects unless India, Japan, South Korea, the US, the EU and neighbouring ASEAN countries make a coordinated effort to strengthen economic relations with it. A similar approach would be needed to China’s approach to construction projects in Nepal and Bangladesh. China’s “all-weather friend” Pakistan is also facing problems in implementing the much-touted CPEC. Despite high-level meetings, important projects like the Diamer-Bhasha Dam located in Gilgit-Baltistan, in POK, are stalled because of disagreements on financial terms set by the Chinese. There are also differences on implementing the railway projects based out of Peshawar and Karachi, apart from a series of road projects. Moreover, there is very little transfer of technology and knowhow, and minimal local participation in Chinese construction projects. Beijing has, after all, to utilise its vast surplus labour force and construction machinery and materials, abroad as its unprecedented domestic construction projects at home are completed.Questions are now being raised in Pakistan about where resources will come from to repay the over $50 billion debt that will accrue from CPEC projects, where local participation is minimal. Moreover, Pakistan will soon be unable to credibly claim that it exercises its sovereignty in places like the Gwadar Port, which is all set to become a Chinese-run military base, close to the strategic Straits of Hormuz. Writing in the respected Dawn newspaper, columnist Khurram Hussein perceptively observes: “In reality, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is about allowing Chinese enterprises to assume dominant positions in all dynamic sectors of Pakistan’s economy, as well as a ‘strategic’ direction that is often hinted at, but never fleshed out.”