Sanjha Morcha

How to make the defence ministry fighting fit

The scholarly attributes and experience of Army personnel can add value to the defence sector

The government’s announcement of lateral absorption of experts in ten government departments at the level of joint secretary shows that fresh talent, from a pool other than that of the IAS, is being given a chance at nation building. Its success depends on two factors. First, with how much zeal the bureaucrats will oppose the proposal and put a spanner in the works; second, whether qualified middle-aged professionals are willing to give up their well paying jobs that come with decision-making and financial powers that exceed what a joint secretary has. However, the ministry of defence has been left out from the list of ministries that require outside talent. Unless of course the IAS officers in MoD are experts in matters military. Could uniformed personnel, who are military experts in the real sense, be good lateral inductees into MoD at a decision-making level?

VINAY SANTOSH KUMAR/HINDUSTAN TIMES■ Wouldn’t it be better to have a military man advising the defence secretary?

After the China debacle in 1962, there was a virtual emergency in the recruitment in the officer cadre of the armed forces. Some of them left the Services early, entered the civil services through their regular entrance exams and rose to head ministries as secretaries in Delhi. This was the last that time there was a true systematic lateral absorption from the forces. Subsequently, to keep a younger age profile in the military, many committees recommended lateral moves into the civil services and central police forces. The ethos of discipline, diligence and military professionalism would enrich these entities no end, these committees felt. But, nothing like that has happened due to vested interests and petty politics, with the expertise going waste. To give an example, when the first test pilot on the LCA Tejas fighter programme left the project, since, for lateral absorption into the DRDO, he was given only the equivalent status of a Wing Commander and not one that recognised his unique expertise. But, we are willing to pay millions to foreigners as technical consultants. In 2011, two serving Air Vice Marshals, one looking after IAF helicopter operations and the other in charge of their technical maintenance, applied for lateral induction as CEO of Pawan Hans Helicopters. These two had spent the better part of 35 years each in IAF’s helicopter stream but were not even called for an interview.

Wouldn’t it be better to have a military man advising the defence secretary? It is time that the scholarly attributes of uniformed personnel got their due — like Gen McMaster, a serving officer, who was America’s National Security Adviser. To quote Niti Aayog chairman Amitabh Kant, who rightly argues for a reverse lateral movement of civil servants into private sector saying “… cross mobility will provide the ultimate synergy;” a move of IAS officers to field formations and the headquarters of the armed forces will make them ideal candidates for a return to the MoD and form the spine of a permanent sub-cadre in this crucial ministry. Only then will one see the MoD and Service headquarters functioning as a well-oiled team. Lateral induction from the Services at the joint and additional secretary level to the MoD must be part of this laudable government move.

Militancy in south Kashmir is Vohra’s biggest hurdle

IN THE DRIVING SEAT Will take over state affairs for the fourth time, touted to be the most difficult

1 SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir governor Narendra Nath Vohra took charge of the state’s administration for the fourth time on Wednesday, but rising local militancy might make his assignment this time more difficult than in the past, political leaders and analysts said.

“In the past three-four years Kashmir has changed a lot. It will need special efforts to calm tempers. The space for mainstream parties has shrunk and local boys have joined militancy,” said a senior National Conference (NC) leader who knows Vohra closely.

“Now it remains to be seen how south Kashmir will behave. And if something happens like killing of civilians or any big incident happens, governor Vohra and the Centre will also [sic] be responsible,” said the politician on condition of anonymity.

The state was put under Governor’s Rule on Wednesday after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pulled out of the ruling coalition, forcing chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to resign.

“This is the fourth time Vohra is taking over affairs of the state. And this time it’s the most difficult assignment. Let us see how he uses his cards on the political and governance front,” said the editor of a Srinagar-based newspaper on condition of anonymity.

The 82-year-old Vohra’s second term as governor ends on June 27 but he is likely to get an extension in light of the Amarnath Yatra, which begins on June 28.

“It’s true Jammu and Kashmir will get a new governor but for the time being NN Vohra is the best choice and he will likely get an extension at least till Amargarh Yatra concludes,” said a senior BJP leader.

The central government’s priority is to ensure security for the yatra as militancy in south Kashmir has increased in recent months. Vohra, as head of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, has been successfully organising the Yatra. His knowledge about Kashmir and its security scenario has come in handy for the annual pilgrimage to the cave shrine.

“Jammu and Kashmir right now can’t afford to have a new governor who will need three to six months know the state,” said a bureaucrat. “Governor Vohra has experience and the Centre will try to use his expertise to get things in the state administration settled. So there is every possibility he will be asked to continue to run this state,” the bureaucrat added.

Leaders of mainstream political parties have faith in Vohra and almost every top leader of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Bharatiya Janata Party, National Conference and the Congress enjoys close ties with him.

Vohra, a veteran civil servant who has held different posts in the state and Centre, was appointed the state’s 12th governor in 2008. The United Progressive

Alliance government gave Vohra a five-year extension in 2013.

A Punjab cadre IAS officer, Vohra was appointed Punjab’s home secretary when the state was passing through a turbulent phase after Operation Bluestar in 1984. He played an important role in holding elections to the Punjab assembly in 1985 in the backdrop of Sikh militancy. After serial bomb blasts in Mumbai in 1993, Vohra was appointed Union home secretary (1993-94).


Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (second from left) with slain rifleman Aurangzeb’s family, in Poonch on Wednesday. Aurangzeb was abducted from Pulwama by terrorists and his bulletridden body was recovered on June 14. Sitharaman was accompanied by senior army officers and visited Salani village to offer her condolences, saying the family stood out as an inspiration for the entire nation. She met Aurangzeb’s father too, a former army man who reiterated his resolve to sacrifice his all to safeguard the integrity and sovereignty of the country.

Statue honouring Sikh soldiers who fought for Britain during WW­1 to be installed in UK

These men volunteered to serve and fought to defend the freedoms we enjoy today. The memorial will ensure that their role is never forgotten.
JATINDER SINGH, president, Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Smethwik

A 10-ft bronze statue of a Sikh soldier to honour the community’s ‘unmeasurable’ contribution during the First World War will be installed in the United Kingdom’s West Midlands to commemorate 100 years, since the end of the conflict. The Lions of the Great War monument, which will be installed in November in Smethwick, West Midlands, will honour the South Asian service personnel who fought for Britain. Sandwell Council called it a ‘striking tribute’ to the community.

PHOTO COURTESY: SANDWELL COUNCILThe Lions of the Great War monument, which will be installed in November in Smethwick, West Midlands, will honour the South Asian service personnel who fought for Britain. The statue will be installed by November.

The statue, depicting a Sikh serviceman carrying a rifle, will stand on a 6-ft granite plinth with inscriptions that name the regiments in which South Asian soldiers served. It will pay tribute to the thousands of troops from India who fought and died for Britain between 1914 and 1918

More than 83,000 turbaned Sikh soldiers gave their lives and more than 1 lakh were injured during the two world wars. President of the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Smethwick, which is covering the cost of the statue, Jatinder Singh, said, “These men volunteered to serve and fought to defend the freedoms we enjoy today. The memorial will ensure that this part is never forgotten.”


The statute’s sculptor Luke Perry said he is ‘incredibly proud’ of the work. “I am incredibly proud to be working on a sculpture that is, at its heart, a statement of gratitude for the actions of a people who gave their lives for our independence when they had not yet achieved their own,” Perry said.

“It will be a striking and permanent marker of the richness of our community and that those who have been under-celebrated are finally getting the recognition they deserve,” he added.

The statue will sit between High Street and Tollhouse Way in a newly-created paved public space that will have seating and lighting.

Sandwell Council leader Steve Eling, said, “I am very proud that Smethwick is paying such a striking tribute to the very important role played by South Asian service personnel during times of conflict.”

The council said the statue will be installed in time for Armistice Day in November, the report said.

Preet Kaur Gill MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs, said the statue will recognise an ‘integral part of Sandwell’s rich history’.

In 2015, a national memorial to S ikh soldiers who fought during World War I was unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

According to official records, despite making up only 2% of the Indian population when the First World War broke out, Sikhs accounted for more than 20% of the Indian Army’s manpower.

Sikh soldiers from Punjab and the surrounding states saw action in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, most notably on the Western Front and at Gallipoli. On the Western Front, Sikhs fought and died alongside their British, Indian and Commonwealth counterparts. Their contribution was essential to the war effort and of 22 Military Crosses awarded to Indian soldiers, 14 went to Sikhs.

Governor takes charge, Centre adopts hard line

KASHMIR CRISIS NIA likely to question Hurriyat leaders

NEWDELHI/SRINAGAR: Security forces are preparing to resume counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the government is set to mount pressure on the leadership of the separatist Hurriyat Conference, officials said on Wednesday, as Kashmir governor NN Vohra took charge of the state administration and put the assembly under suspended animation.

PTICRPF men stand guard near the Kheer Bhawani temple that was swarmed by devotees for an annual fair in Kashmir’s Ganderbal.

As Jammu and Kashmir came under Governor’s Rule, a day after the state’s nearly 40-monthold coalition government collapsed, home minister Rajnath Singh said that the Centre will not tolerate terrorism any longer, after ending a monthlong halt on counter-insurgency operations.

“Elimination of terrorism and restoration of peace in Kashmir is our biggest target,” Singh said on a visit to Lucknow, a constituency he represents in the Lok Sabha.

He warned militant groups against any misadventure. “Our security forces are ready to foil any such activity,” said


President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to Governor’s Rule in the state on Wednesday, a day after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ended its alliance with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), forcing chiefminister Mehbooba Mufti’s resignation.

Governor Vohra made the recommendation in a report he sent to the home ministry on Tuesday night.

On Sunday, the Centre ordered security forces to resume counter-insurgency operations in J&K, ending a month-long halt for the Islamic holy month of Ramzan.

IAFA hosts exhibition to promote 3D art

IAFA hosts exhibition to promote 3D art

Rajinder Mohan Singh Chhina (second from left) with others at the art gallery in Amritsar on Tuesday. photo: Vishal Kumar

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 19

With an aim to promote sculptures and murals among the art lovers in the city, the IAFA in collaboration with Impressions, an art group, hosted a national exhibition featuring artists from across the country.The exhibition has art works by 16 artists, with sculptures and murals in 3D and graphic art as well. “3D art has developed as commercially viable option for artists in almost all genres of art. Since its introduction to the Indian art scene, many senior and upcoming artists are working in this format. But the lack of presenting opportunities and exposure is a limitation we are working to remove,” says Aruna Sharma, an artist and member of Impressions art group. Sharma’s paintings are also a part of the exhibition.Murals and sculptures from the IAFA-owned collection are already on display at one of the galleries, the effort is to highlight the genre among aspiring art students.“A workshop on mural making is being held in art gallery everyday for this month. Dedicated efforts are being made to educate young artists about latest media and other developments to enable them in popularising the art form,” says Sharma. The exhibition was inaugurated by IAFA chairman Rajinder Mohan Singh Chhina.

CM pays tribute to martyr Gurung

CM pays tribute to martyr Gurung

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat pays a floral tribute to martyr Vikas Gurung, who was killed in a ceasefire violation by Pakistan, in Rishikesh on Monday.

Dehradun, June 18

Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat on Monday paid tributes to  soldier Vikas Gurung, who was killed in firing from across the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir.Rawat went to Gurung’s home in Rishikesh to lay a wreath on the soldier’s body.Twenty one-year-old Gurung of 2/1 Gorkha Rifles was killed in firing from across the Line of Control (LoC) in Naushera sector of Jammu and Kashmir.Uttarakhand Speaker Premchand Aggarwal and MLA Ganesh Joshi also paid tributes to the soldier. PTI 

Governor’s Rule will not affect ongoing anti-terror ops in Valley: Army Chief

Governor's Rule will not affect ongoing anti-terror ops in Valley: Army Chief

Action that was being taken earlier would continue, Rawat asserted. PTI file

New Delhi, June 20

Army Chief General Bipin Rawat on Wednesday said the imposition of Governor’s Rule in Jammu and Kashmir is unlikely to have any impact on ongoing anti-terror operations and noted that there was no political interference.

General Rawat’s response came after President Ram Nath Kovind approved the imposition of Governor’s Rule in the state with immediate effect earlier in the day.

Operations in the Valley would continue as earlier, Rawat told reporters on the sidelines of an event here.

“Operations were being carried out earlier as well. Then we saw a phase of suspension of operations because we wanted people to get a chance to offer their prayers during Ramzan without any kind of problem. Despite that, terrorists continued with their activity, which is why the suspension of operations was cancelled,” he said.

Action that was being taken earlier would continue, Rawat asserted.

Referring to the imposition of Governor’s rule in the state after the BJP pulled out of its alliance with the PDP, he said, “We don’t think there will be any impact. We don’t have any kind of political interference.” There has, he said, never been any kind of restriction on the force on how it should conduct its work.

The security forces have very strict rules of engagement and “take action” in accordance with them, Rawat said.

The ceasefire announced by the Centre for the month of Ramzan was revoked on Sunday. Aurangzeb, an Army jawan, was killed by terrorists and journalist Shujaat Bukhari was shot dead two days ahead of Eid.

Today, Jammu and Kashmir was placed under Governor’s rule for the fourth time in the last one decade after the BJP withdrew support to its alliance partner, prompting Mehbooba Mufti to resign as Chief Minister. PTI

Post-truce, search ops in city

Post-truce, search ops in city

Azhar Qadri

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, June 20

The cordon and search operations – the backbone of counter-insurgency and area domination operations in the Kashmir valley – have marked a return after the month-long unilateral ceasefire during when such operations were curtailed.The security forces have initiated the cordon and search operations across the region, including the city, which had been comparatively off the grid during recent years.On Tuesday evening, police’s counter-insurgency unit sealed off a locality in the Bemina neighbourhood on the city outskirts and launched a search operation. Locals said the operation continued for more than two hours in Bemina’s Alamdar Colony and policemen searched several houses.“The cordon was laid around 9:15 in the evening and continued till late. The police went inside several houses and no one was allowed to go inside or leave,” a local resident said.A policeman accompanying the search team said there was an intelligence input about the presence of militants in the area. It was the first cordon and search operation in Srinagar, the state’s summer capital, since the end of the Ramzan ceasefire on Sunday.The Ramzan ceasefire was initiated on May 17 and had brought the counter-insurgency operations, including the cordon and search operations, to an abrupt halt.The operations were resumed on Monday, a day after the Union government announced that it was not extending the unilateral ceasefire and ordered the security forces to resume its operations against militants.Immediately after the end of the ceasefire, the cordon and search operations were launched in several parts of south Kashmir, including in Wanghama village of Anantnag district, Samboora village in Awantipora police district and Hajin Bala in Pulwama district.The security forces have so far conducted one counter-insurgency operation which led to a gunfight and the killing of militants. Three militants, including a foreigner and two locals affiliated with Jaish-e-Mohammad, were killed in the operation on Tuesday in Hayuna village of south Kashmir’s Tral sub-district.A senior police officer, who is in charge of a district in the volatile south Kashmir, said the instructions to resume the operations against the militants came immediately after the ceasefire ended.The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the preference was to launch operations on specific intelligence inputs rather than inputs about the presence of militants in any general area.The cordon and search operations in recent years have sparked violent protests with local residents throwing stones at security forces leading to clashes and also casualties, which continue to be a major worry for the security forces.Locality sealed at night 

  • On Tuesday evening, police’s counter-insurgency unit sealed off a locality in the Bemina neighbourhood on the outskirts of Srinagar and launched a search operation
  • Locals said the operation continued for more than two hours in Bemina’s Alamdar Colony and policemen searched several houses. The cordon was laid around 9:15 in the evening and continued till late

Aurangzeb inspiration to nation: Nirmala Visits martyr’s family, forward posts in Poonch

Aurangzeb inspiration to nation: Nirmala

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman meets the father and other family members of Rifleman Aurangzeb in Poonch on Wednesday. PTI

Tribune News Service

Jammu, June 20

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday described the supreme sacrifice of Rifleman Aurangzeb, who was abducted and killed by militants in Pulwama district, and his family as an inspiration for the entire country.Sitharaman said this after visiting the family of Aurangzeb at Salani village in Poonch district. The minister was accompanied by senior Army officers.“I have come here to meet the martyr’s family and spend some time with them. One message I can take back is that here’s a family, here’s a martyr, who, to me and I am sure to the whole nation, stands out as an inspiration,” the Defence Minister told mediapersons.She stayed with the family for about half an hour and handed over a welfare cheque of Rs 5 lakh to Aurangzeb’s father. She also presented shawls to martyr’s brothers and sisters.On June 18, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat had visited the family and had said that the supreme sacrifice by “the brave son of India” would not go in vain. Gen Rawat had assured all possible assistance to the family.Mohammad Hanief, Aurangzeb’s father and an ex-serviceman, had made a passionate appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to avenge the killing of his unarmed son and reiterated his resolve to sacrifice his life for the country.Meanwhile, the Defence Minister also visited forward posts along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Krishna Ghati sector and interacted with the troops.“On her official visit to the state, the minister was briefed by the GOC, Ace of Spades Division, on the prevailing security situation and steps being taken to maintain a close vigil on the LoC and maintain peace in the hinterland,” a Defence spokesperson said.He said the minister also interacted with soldiers and complimented them on their exemplary devotion towards maintaining sanctity of the LoC and giving a befitting reply to the inimical forces.Interacts with soldiers in Krishna Ghati sector 

  • The Defence Minister also visited forward posts along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Krishna Ghati sector and interacted with the troops.
  • She complimented the soldiers on their exemplary devotion towards maintaining sanctity of the LoC and giving a befitting reply to the inimical forces.