Sanjha Morcha

Army Using Obsolete Combat Vehicles As Project Not Cleared For 8 Years

Infantry Combat Vehicles (ICVs), also known as Armoured Personnel Carriers, lie at the heart of Indian Army’s operations in any war against Pakistan.

Army Using Obsolete Combat Vehicles As Project Not Cleared For 8 Years

NEW DELHI:  If India were to go to war with Pakistan right now, its soldiers would be at risk on a very basic front -the vehicles that carry them into the battlefield are outdated – at least three decades old – and are not equipped with modern night vision devices, a key vulnerability in modern warfare.

Eight years ago, the government cleared the acquisition of more than 2,000 Infantry Combat Vehicles (ICVs) for the army – the deal is worth Rs. 60,000 crore.

But a series of delays and a tangle of red tape have meant that even now, not a single new vehicle has been ordered, let alone entered service. As a result of the delays, the army continues to fight with Russian- designed BMP-2 ICVs, unreliable and prone to technical snags because to keep them running, their engines have been overhauled beyond their prescribed limits.

Documents accessed by NDTV lay out the serpentine process within the Defence Ministry where different wings have been unable to reach a consensus on how the project is to proceed. Worried at the consequences of the delay, G Mohan Kumar, the last Defence Secretary, documented his concerns. In a file noting in April last year, Mr Kumar warned that “raising doubts over the evaluation methodology or changing it at this stage will not be consistent with the established procedure.” His own ministry, he said, was “delaying inordinately [the] acquisition of critical equipment for the army.”

Infantry Combat Vehicles (ICVs), also known as Armoured Personnel Carriers, lie at the heart of the army’s operations in any war against Pakistan. A key element of army combat teams, each ICV carries 10 fully-armed soldiers into the battle-field. ICVs often follow tank formations which are meant to strike dagger-like blows across the border as the army fights deep inside enemy territory. Highly mobile and equipped with anti-tank missiles, ICVs support tank operations and also accompany artillery formations, bridge-laying tanks, and air defence units. They are designed to protect the soldiers they carry within against all small-arms fire but cannot withstand the impact of a tank shell.

The army’s saga to acquire a new Infantry Combat Vehicle began in in October 2009. The new ICVs were to be made in India in a bid to encourage indigenous manufacture of key weapon systems. The army issued an Expression of Interest – which solicits quotes and bids – in 2010 to Tata, Mahindra Defence Systems, Larsen & Toubro and the government-run Ordnance Factory Board.

Then the delays began -and kept piling up. In December 2012, the army’s Expression of Interest was withdrawn because of a reported difference of opinion in how the army’s experts and the Defence Ministry’s team evaluated the proposal that had been submitted by defence manufacturers. Unable to find common ground, the main file on the ICV project was returned to the army four years after the process first began. The instructions given were to wait for a new set of government guidelines meant to specify rules for private sector Indian defence manufacturers. According to a document accessed by NDTV, “This decision was likely to delay the project by another 2 years.”

Under intense pressure from the army which realised that its existing BMP-2 was utterly obsolete, the Defence Ministry agreed to a fresh Expression of Interest in April 2014. 10 Indian companies responded to this following which it took the Defence Ministry another year to decide how it intended to evaluate the prototypes provided by each firm.

Five private firms and the government’s Ordnance Factory Board said they wanted to be considered and the Defence Ministry submitted an evaluation report on each proposal on November 25, 2016.

In late 2016, in perhaps the biggest setback to the ICV project, those reviews or evaluation reports were rejected by the Defence Ministry’s Director General (Acquisitions) because the “the methodology for selection was at variance with [the] Defence Procurement Procedure 2008,” the government manual being used to process this deal.

This recommendation was overruled by Mr Kumar, the Defence Secretary, claiming that “the option of scrapping the present process and issuing a fresh expression of interest may not be in our best interest considering that this will put us back by a few years and render all effort so far made infructuous thus delaying inordinately acquisition of critical equipment for the army.”

7COMMENTS

He could not have stated the consequences more baldly. Two meetings of the Defence Production Board were held late last year. Since then, one of the firms competing for the order has raised questions about three competitors. With a formal complaint lodged, a panel of independent experts was formed in November. Senior Ministry sources have told NDTV that no decision has been taken on how to proceed with the army’s Infantry Combat Vehicle project.

The phenomenally slow process to clear the acquisition of one of the most basic fighting systems of the Indian Army exemplifies all that is wrong with India’s weapons procurement process. In a classified briefing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November last year, Dr Subhash Bhamre, the Minister of State for Defence, said India’s weapons-buying is frequently crippled by “multiple and diffused structures with no single point accountability, multiple decision-heads, duplication of processes, delayed comments, delayed execution, no real-time monitoring, no project-based approach and a tendency to fault-find rather than to facilitate.”


Fazilka solider killed in Assam terror attack cremated with state honours

FAZILKA: Amarsir Singh, 28, a resident of Jorki Andhewali village of Fazilka district who was killed in a terrorist attack in Assam on March 5, was cremated with full state honours in his village on Thursday.

HT PHOTOAmarsir Singh’s body being taken for cremation at Jorki Andhewali village in Fazilka district.

Amarsir was posted with 13 Sikh Light Infantry Regiment in Assam and was recruited into the Indian Army in 2008.

“He was severely injured during the attack and fought for his life for four hours, before succumbing to the injuries,” said Sukhminder Singh, his father.

Amarsir is survived by two minor daughters and wife. He had spoken to daughter Gurleen Kaur on his birthday on March 3 (Saturday).

 


Fazilka sepoy cremated, kin seek govt job

Fazilka sepoy cremated, kin seek govt job
Army jawans during the cremation of sepoy Amarshir Singh in Fazilka on Thursday. Tribune Photo

Our Correspondent

Fazilka, March 8

Sepoy Amarshir Singh (30), who died during a terrorist attack in Assam on March 5, was cremated with state and military honours at his native Jorki Andhewali village here today.A pall of gloom descended on the village when the martyr’s body reached here. His nephews lit the pyre as his two daughters – Gurnoor Kaur (4) and three-month-old Gurbir Kaur – were not in a position to do so. His body was draped in the national flag.A contingent of Army jawans gave a gun salute to him in the presence of senior Army officials, Fazilka SDM Balbir Raj Singh and former Congress MLA Dr Mohinder Kumar Rinwa. SAD (rural) district president Gurpal Singh Grewal and All India Youth Congress Committee secretary Goldy Kamboj were also present.Amarshir had joined the Army on March 7, 2008.Wife Veerpal Kaur said she was proud of her husband and would tell the stories of his bravery to their daughters.Amarshir’s father Sukhmander Singh, a shepherd, demanded a government job for the martyr’s wife as he was the only breadwinner of the family.


Capable enough to take on Chinese forces: IAF Chief

Nikhil Bhardwaj

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 22

Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa on Thursday said the Indian Air Force is capable enough to take on Chinese forces and is fully prepared to meet any challenges. Accompanying President Ram Nath Kovind at the President’s Standard and Colours ceremony at Halwara Air Force Station here, the IAF Chief said the present fleet of aircraft is more than adequate to handle any eventuality and the process is underway for the induction of new ones.  He said the plans were afoot to add more squadrons, adding that 40 new Rafale jets would also be added in the fleet of Air Force soon.On a query whether China’s newly inducted J20 stealth fighters will impact our combat capabilities as these can dodge radars, Dhanoa replied that J20s can be picked up easily by 230 SU from several kilometers against the held belief. On inadequate allocation of budget for the Air Force, the Air Marshal said the concerns had already been conveyed to the government. Speaking on the government’s policy of allowing the Air Force base for civil flights, Dhanoa said already many IAF bases were being used for the same and adequate security arrangements were in place for Air Force stations to be safe. Meanwhile, the President awarded the President’s Standard to Group Captain Satish S Pawar, Commanding Officer of 51 Squadron, and the Presidential Colours to Group Captain SK Tripathi, Station Commander of 230 Signal Unit.In his address, Kovind said: “Indian forces are committed to protecting the sovereignty of the nation. IAF has a valuable contribution to the history of the country… 51 Squadron and the 230 Signal Units have a rich history of professional excellence and served the country with honour and distinction, during peace and hostilities.” 


Mobile CSD unit at Bangana sought

Our Correspondent

Una, March 19

Ex-servicemen of the Bangana subsivision have raised their demand for a mobile unit of canteen stores department (CSD) at the subdivision headquarters. The demand was raised at the quarterly meeting of the district Sainik Welfare Board here.According to an official communique, a non-official member of the district-level committee of the Sainik Welfare Board said there were about 5,000 ex-servicemen and their families besides scores of other families of serving defence personnel in Bangana, who had to travel to the Una district headquarters or to Badsar in Hamirpur district for CSD facilities.The ex-servicemen have demanded that the mobile CSD unit visit Bangana at least twice a month so that the ex-servicemen and their families could purchase grocery and other items. Demands for a community building for ex-servicemen at the Una district headquarters and demarcation of land for a proposed Army cantonment in Gagret developmental block were also raised.Additional DC Kritika Kulhari, while presiding over the meeting, directed the officials concerned to take appropriate action with regards to the demands. She informed that the financial assistance for the marriage of daughters of ex-servicemen had been raised from Rs 16,000 to Rs 50,000, adding that during the last quarter, 33 such cases had been forwarded to the Director of Sainik Welfare.Their plea

  • There are about 5,000 ex-servicemen and their families in Bangana
  • They have to travel to the Una district headquarters or Badsar in Hamirpur district for CSD facilities
  • They have demanded that the mobile CSD unit should visit Bangana at least twice a month

Polarisation will politicise the Army by Maj-Gen Ashok K Mehta (retd)

Incendiary remarks by political and RSS leaders harm the Army’s secular traditions. We have regiments where soldiers of all faiths live and fight together. The leaders are ignorant of military ethos.

Polarisation will politicise the Army
Gearing up: RSS men take part in a Path-Sanchalan in Ahmedabad recently. Reuters

The RSS is the BJP’s standing army, mobilised to win elections and bulldoze the opposition. While it might have requisitioned Ritu Beri to modernise RSS’s battle apparel, it is far from being a fighting force. Instead, it distorts the image of the Army. Take the several mindless statements, including an incendiary one, made by national leaders which have undermined the idea of India, image and integrity of the Army and even politicised it. Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS chief and Prime Minister Modi’s mentor, said that while the Army takes six to seven months to mobilise, the swayamsevaks are ready to go in three to four days. There were other insinuations in his statement: RSS could be a volunteer army in six to seven months to “help” the regular Army. Being a non-secular Hindu civilian organisation, such a force can have no place in the Indian Army. Rather, it better stick to its forte of helping the BJP win elections. Lt-Gen Danbu, Chief of Northern Command in Kashmir, said the Army does not recognise a soldier by his religion.The Indian Army is stitched together as a fighting force because it is professional, apolitical, secular and under civilian political control and, therefore, the last bastion of our Constitution and democracy. The most outstanding trait of the Army is that it is secular and derives its soul from the secular composition of the country. In regiments, soldiers take their oath of allegiance putting their hand on the Tricolour, Gita, Guru Granth Sahib, Quran and Bible. In all-India regiments under one roof or a tent, are a temple, gurdwara, mosque or church. You will not find this conjugation of religions anywhere in the world. So what the RSS can learn from the Army is that while one can be a blue-blooded Hindu and nationalist, one can also be a secular patriot. This is what will make the RSS truly all-India.On Muslims, the statement made by BJP MP Vinay Katiyar, which has not been contradicted so far, says: “Muslims should not live in India and should either go to Pakistan or Bangladesh.” Such statements do immeasurable harm to the Army’s secular traditions because there are regiments where Muslims, Hindus and other faiths live and fight together.  While polarisation may win votes for the parties, it will severely politicise the Army and damage its organisational cohesiveness, not to mention the fatal damage it will do to the internal security of the country.The redoubtable Praveen Togadia, chief of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, once very close to PM Modi when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat, is reported to have said that stone-pelters in J&K should be “bombarded”. This would imply carpet-bombing. He advocated the breakup of Pakistan into five parts. Neither idea has an iota of prudence or sense: both are urgings neither feasible nor implementable. India is facing considerable difficulty keeping together J&K in our possession as we have lost the local support of people. Stirring the pot across the border in PoK with an army of RSS volunteers which can be transformed into soldiers in six months, as claimed, will not be easy. But the idea first came from RSS pracharak, former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, famous for his remarks after the surgical srikes that it was he who instilled the Hanuman spirit into the Army. Can he do it with the RSS? Though, his original idea was different — to catch a terrorist, use a terrorist.Thus, it is clear that our political leaders and those from social organisations like the RSS do not comprehend the changing nature of war, especially cross-border terrorism which our soldiers confront 24×7. Pakistan got a bloody nose in the three and a half wars it has fought, so now it is using a low-cost, high-yield proxy war to compensate for its inferiority in conventional military strength compared to India. When Bhagwat, Togadia, Katiyar, Owaisi etc make absurd comments about the Army and the country, it is time to educate them about military ethos, war and deterrence on the one hand and the idea of India on the other.The National Defence College’s central theme is the general education of defence, diplomacy and conflict avoidance. A decade ago, a special capsule run for Members of Parliament was strangely discontinued. It should be resumed immediately. Besides visiting forward areas, elected representatives of the Parliament should spend 24 hours at or near a forward post on the LoC to gauge the heat and living conditions of our soldiers. Representation of the military in the Parliament is miniscule. Instead of wasting nominated seats on filmstars and cricketers who skip the Parliament in any case, professional veterans from the services, instead, will bring the realism of LoC into the House. Bhagwat is spot-on about one thing, though: that the Army is not combat-ready. And, it is underequipped as per the report of BJP’s Gen BC Khanduri’s Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence. Bhagwat is Modi’s mentor. He can tell him that the military in the defence budget in 2018-19 has got a raw deal — the lowest ever as percentage of GDP (1.49) when China has four times as much. This year, that is why after the defence budget, talk in South Block was that Modi’s priority had altered from Jai Jawan Jai Kisan to just Jai Kisan.‘Five of seven soldiers killed in Sanjuwan were Muslims’Take the case of the recent Sanjuwan terror attack on a battalion of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry in Jammu which bore the brunt of the terrorist attack. “Five of the seven soldiers killed in the attack were Muslims. No one is pointing this out. While Muslims are being called Pakistanis, and their loyalty doubted, we are also sacrificing lives,” said All-India Majlis e Ittahadul Muslimeen chief and Member of Parliament Asaduddin Owaisi.


Exserviceman Rally and Medical Camp at Lebong Race Course on 25 March 2018

Exserviceman Rally and Medical Camp being conducted at Lebong Race Course under the aegis of Striking Lion Division on 25 Mar 2018. Max Veterans & Veer Naris requested to attend. @DefenceMinIn


Floral tributes paid to 5 Kupwara martyrs

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, March 22

The Army and J&K Police paid floral tributes to the five security personnel killed in a fierce gunfight in the frontier Kupwara district on Wednesday.The Army held a solemn ceremony at Badamibagh cantonment, where Lt Gen AK Bhatt, Chinar Corps Commander, and all ranks paid homage to the three soldiers killed in the gunfight on behalf of the nation. “In a show of solidarity, representatives from other security agencies also joined in paying their last respects to the martyrs,” Srinagar-based defence spokesman Col Rajesh Kalia said.Havildar Jorabar Singh, Naik Ranjeet Khalkho and Naik Mohammad Ashraf Rather were killed in an anti-militancy operation in Halmatpora, Kupwara .Jorabar Singh, 45, had joined the Army in 1993 and hailed from Rait village in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh. He is survived by his wife and three children.Ranjeet Khalkho, 33, hailed from Dudhakhuti village in Ranchi, Jharkhand, and had joined the Army in 2001. He is survived by his parents, a brother and three sisters.Mohommad Ashraf Rather, 35, had joined the Army in 2004. He belonged to Reshigund village of Kralpora in Kupwara, Kashmir, and is survived by his wife and a daughter.Floral tributes were also paid to the two policemen — Senior Grade Constable Deepak Thusoo of Nagrota and Special Police Officer Mohammad Yousuf of Kachhama in Kupwara — killed in the Kupwara gunfight.Member of Parliament Fayaz Ahmad Mir led the police and security forces personnel in paying tributes to the two slain policemen in Kupwara. In Srinagar, Inspector General of Police Swayam Prakash Pani led the police and security forces officers in the wreath-laying ceremony for the two policemen.Deepak Thusoo is survived by his aged parents, wife, 12-year-old son, 7-year-old daughter and an unmarried sister, a police spokesman said.Mohammad Yousuf is survived by his aged parents, three sons and two minor daughters, the youngest being five years old.


Time for economic rethink :::Get back to the basics to rebuild Punjab by Nirmal Sandhu

Time for economic rethink
Just do it: The Captain has got a shot at fixing things, he must seize it.

Nirmal Sandhu

It is budget time and also the time to question old certainties and make an honest effort to retrieve Punjab’s sinking economy. One year is enough for making political noises about past blunders. Now is the time to correct them. The state can do without another business-as-usual budget. The Punjab leadership keeps knocking at the door of the Centre for help. The easiest thing to do is to fling all the blame towards the Centre. Parkash Singh Badal has been doing that for years and politically profiting from “Central discrimination” before inviting a humiliating defeat by tying the state to an unreasonable Rs 31,000-crore loan on the Centre’s terms. A Central bailout is unlikely because of Punjab’s limited relevance in the political calculations of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. During his recent Chandigarh visit, Niti Aayog’s Dr Rajiv Kumar reiterated Delhi’s message — clearly, bluntly and publicly: stop asking for funds. “You can leave the country’s food security to us”. There is a message in the snub.  Every budget presents the leadership a choice: use the taxpayers’ money to bribe voters in the hope of a favourable verdict in the next election or take hard, unpleasant decisions for long-term gain. Both Badal and Capt Amarinder Singh have so far chosen the path that suits them more than the state. They seem to be in politics to leverage power, not to unsettle a beneficial arrangement. The result is they have continued with absurdities experts disapprove of. Free power is the single big blunder that has (1) hurt Punjab’s agriculture, (2) depleted Punjab’s water resources by encouraging paddy cultivation, (3) added to farmers’ production cost by forcing installation of submersible pumps, (4) drove the state to rely on private power companies which dictated own terms, (5) curtailed industrial activity during the paddy season and (6) consumed resources that could have been used to modernise power plants and enhance generation capacity, and thus save jobs lost in shutting down unviable plants. Abandoning the age-old wisdom — teach fishing to a man instead of giving him a fish — they have made Punjabis freebies dependent.The damage caused by state neglect, diversion of resources to meet demands of vote politics and patronage of the private sector is not limited to power. It extends to public transport, education, health and highways with consequences of public sector jobs shrinking or disappearing and costs rising for all. Waiting for a waiver, farmers have stopped repaying loans. The Congress can take credit for adding cooperative societies and banks to the list of institutions turned dysfunctional by politics of appeasement.Every economic pundit has said a loan waiver is no solution to farmer distress. Yet this government, which has raised a battalion of advisers, has ignored this sane advice. There is no effort to look beyond the set framework. In recent years, Punjab has not thrown up a single big idea to solve any of its serious problems. Haryana is promoting sports and offering secured price for vegetable growers. Himachal Pradesh is known for its single-minded devotion to human development. Madhya Pradesh gives deficiency payments to farmers selling produce below the MSP. Telangana pays a flat subsidy of Rs 4,000 per acre every sowing season. There is little hope the coming budget will be any different. We have policy-makers who tend to shut the door when an opportunity arrives. The Chief Minister can go to Mumbai to woo private investment, but when Canada’s Prime Minister, with all the goodwill for Punjabis arrived, he had no economic agenda to talk of. Instead, he produced a list of nine wanted men and revived a dead issue called Khalistan. He could not get over the slight Canada dealt him by denying a visa.  North India in general and Punjab in particular can benefit from increased trade with Pakistan and countries beyond, but none of the Punjab leaders have cared to counter war-mongering by BJP foot soldiers. Trade is the best answer to terror and that requires greater opening up to Pakistan. But the Captain seems busy figuring out how on earth he tied himself in knots with those outrageous election-time promises on the advice of a clever poll strategist.“Politics is about promising, disappointing and managing disappointment,” says Prof Stephen Holmes of New York University. Holmes may not have heard of Capt Amarinder Singh but what he says sums up the Punjab CM’s practice of democracy. The Captain has spent one year reminding people how big a mess the Badals have left behind. The Chief Minister’s sense of surprise at the state’s Rs 2.08 lakh crore debt seems manufactured since all state debt figures, including Uday bonds, state guarantees and loans of public sector enterprises, have been in the public domain. In a TOI interview (February 27) he said: “The growth rate of the state in 2006-07 (when he was the CM) was 10.18%, which was higher than the all India average of 9.57%. By 2016-17, it had fallen to 4.20% of all India average of 7.5 per cent”. The Hindu report “No fresh taxes in Punjab Budget” (March 8, 2006) mentions Punjab’s likely growth rate at 5.5 per cent — almost half of what the Captain claims. This reminds one of what American politician-diplomat Daniel Patrick Moynihan has said: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not to his own facts”.Cost-cutting has started in Punjab but at the wrong end: closure of rural schools, bare minimum fixed salary for teachers, winding up of “suvidha kendra” and shutting down of power plants. Taxes, power tariffs and bus fares have gone up. There has been little sacrifice at the top. Hoping for a cut in wasteful government expenditure is like expecting a royal to live like Gandhi.Capt Amarinder Singh says he will retire once Punjab’s finances are put in order. That means no getting away from the lure of power. Why would he make himself politically redundant by seriously working for fiscal improvement? He praises Badal for memorials while his Finance Minister points to the absurdity of spending Rs 2,000 crore on memorials and denying Rs 20 crore to Panjab University.The budget offers a chance to the ruling political operatives to change the perception of being anti-change. It is time to go back to the basics: water, air, soil, education and health. The declining quality of water, air and soil has enormous ramifications for human health and family budgets. Substandard education has made youth unemployable. The budget can fund a credible rescue plan for each of these areas. It is time to move from extravagance to productive use of resources.

nirmalssandhu@gmail.com