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    Three more US Sikh soldiers move court

    Chandigarh, March 29

    A lawsuit brought by three Sikh American soldiers was filed in a US federal court on Tuesday against the Department of Defence. Specialist Kanwar Singh, Specialist Harpal Singh and Private Arjan Singh Ghotra have sought the right to serve their country without being forced to compromise their religion.The lawsuit, filed by the Sikh Coalition, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and McDermott Will & Emery, has demanded that the Army accommodate their religious articles of faith so that they can begin Basic Combat Training with their various units in May. The lawsuit was filed after the US Department of Defence ignored a letter that was sent on March 23.The new lawsuit follows the March 4 federal court ruling that the Army was prohibited from subjecting a decorated Sikh American soldier, Captain Simratpal Singh, to unprecedented, discriminatory testing. A final Army decision regarding Capt Singh’s landmark religious accommodation request is due by March 31.“We had hoped that we would not have to file a second lawsuit on behalf of three more Sikh soldiers, who simply want to practise their faith freely while serving their nation,” said Sikh Coalition’s legal director Harsimran Kaur. “However, the defence department has remained unresponsive.” Last year, 27 retired US Generals had called on the Department of Defence to lift the ban on practising Sikhs. — TNS


    दुर्भाग्यपूर्ण~हम अशोक के जन्मदिन को भुल गए

    download (3)

    1. जिस राजा का चक्र राष्ट्रीय ध्वज में है।

    2. जिस राजा के चार सिंह मुखी के चिन्ह को राष्टीय मुद्रा माना जाता है।

    3. जिस राजा को दुनिया का सर्वोत्तम राजा माना गया।

    4. जिस राजा के कारण भारत का नाम पूरी दुनिया में उज्ज्वल हुआ।

    5. जिसके नाम से सर्वोच्च पुरुस्कार अशोक चक्र दिया जाता है।

    6. जिस राजा का साम्राज्य अफगानिस्तान और ईरान तक फैला था।

    7. भारत का पहला प्राणी चिकित्सालय जिसके शासन में खुला।

    8. पर्यावरण के प्रति जागरूकता अभियान का सर्व प्रथम जिस राजा ने शुरू किया।

    9. जिस राजा के कारण बौद्ध धम्म विश्वव्यापी हुआ।

    download (1) download (2) download

    उस महान चक्रवर्ती राजा को प्रियदर्शी सम्राट अशोक के नाम से पूरी दुनिया मानती है।

    उस महान अशोक की जयंती भारत में नही मनाई जाती ?

    (सम्राट अशोक जयंती -26 मार्च 2016)

    सभी साथियों को भारत की शान अशोक महान के जन्म दिन की बहुत बहुत शुभकामनाएं ।



    Ambedkar’s 1931 editorial on Bhagat Singh found

    Ambedkar’s 1931 editorial on Bhagat Singh found
    Youths at Bhagat Singh’s ancestral village in Khatkar Kalan, Nawanshahr. Tribune Photo: Malkiat Singh

    Vishav Bharti

    Tribune News Service

    Chandigarh, March 22

    How did Bhagat Singh and BR Ambedkar perceive each other?This question has been asked to chroniclers of the freedom movement a thousand times. But the finding of a piece written by Ambedkar, which was published after Bhagat Singh and his comrades’ execution, gives a new dimension to the whole issue.In an editorial by Ambedkar published in Janata on April 13, 1931, he had argued that Bhagat Singh and his comrades were hanged in deference to public opinion in England.Prof Chaman Lal, a former teacher at Jawaharlal Nehru University, said the journey to find this editorial started in 2006 during a private visit to Chennai where he found a wonderful editorial written on the hangings by freedom fighter Periyar on March 29.“I started browsing Ambedkar’s writings to ascertain whether the latter had written something on Bhagat Singh and his comrades. I could also not find anything in 25 volumes of collected works,” he said.Then on January 30, Subodh More, a grandson of RB More, sent me the original Marathi version of the editorial. “I requested Anand Teltumbde to translate it in English,” Prof Lal said. The editorial was published in English early this month.He said, “The editorial has great value when the youth is in an uproar and the way ahead lies in the combination of the ideas of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar.”Teltumbde, the English translator of the editorial and Mumbai-based social activist in his introduction to the translation says, “The relevance of the ideas of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar is growing. How did they perceive each other? There is no evidence of either of them saying anything about the other. However, we do know that Bhagat Singh had grappled with the Dalit question. He had written an article titled Achoot Samasya (Problem of Untouchability) at the age of 16, but it still has freshness and reflects the amazing maturity of thought to be relevant for the struggle of Dalits. Ambedkar did not write on the revolutionary movement of Bhagat Singh but has written an editorial note — Three Victims — when they were hanged. Though it does not speak about their struggle, much less politics, it explains how their execution was influenced by political expediency back home.”Ludhiana-based nephew of martyr Prof Jagmohan Singh, says, “This editorial answers several questions. Both of them were very important figures of the freedom struggle. It has historical significance due to two reasons, one is that when a law luminary like Ambedkar says that the three youngsters were sacrificed to please public opinion, it holds a great meaning,” said Singh.The second significance, he says, is that Bhagat Singh and his compatriots his never appealed for mercy from the court.

    Extract from editorial

    • “In sum, merely not to incur anger of the conservatives in England, they sacrificed Bhagat Singh and his comrades ignoring public opinion and not minding what would happen to the Gandhi-Irwin pact. The government must remember, howsoever it tries to cover it up or polish it; it will never be able to hide this fact.” —BR Ambedkar

    Airport yet to be named after martyr

    Deepkamal Kaur

    Tribune News Service

    Jalandhar, March 22

    Even as the state BJP leadership had claimed last week that the international airport at Chandigarh would be named after Bhagat Singh before his martyrdom day, no official declaration for the same came till this evening, a day before the commemorative event.BJP state president Kamal Sharma, who had issued the statement after a meeting with Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Dr Mahesh Sharma, said, “I am hopeful it will be done in a day or so. It has probably taken time since the issue involves the Centre and two state governments. In any case, the Central government has agreed in principle. I will take an update from Dr Sharma again.”“The work on installation of Amar Jawan Jyoti at Hussainiwala is being done,” said Sharma.The district administration will ply special buses from Rahon, Nawanshahr, Mukandpur, Banga and Garhshankar to facilitate participation of the people of the area in the rally tomorrow, he said. Deputy CMSukhbir Badal will hold a rally at the site tomorrow.


    This Yamunanagar village has martyrs’ temple

    This Yamunanagar village has martyrs’ temple
    Students pay tributes to Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru at the martyrs’ temple in Rao village of Yamunanagar district. Tribune photo

    Shiv Kumar Sharma

    Tribune News Service

    Yamunanagar, March 22

    Heroes of freedom struggle, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev, are remembered on March 23 every year, but in Rao village of the district, they are paid homage and saluted every day.The villagers, under the banner of the Anti Corruption Society (ACS), have raised a martyrs’ temple in the village, elevating them to a status of demigod. In the Inquilab Temple are installed statues of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru, Udham Singh and Lala Lajpat Rai. Here, villagers assemble daily to pay them their respects.“Besides holding special programme on the occasion of the Martyrs’ Day, we pay homage to the great heroes of our nation every day,” said Waryam Singh, state president of ACS. It was he who rooted the idea of constructing a temple in the memory of the freedom fighters.Waryam Singh said, “When I was studying in Class X in 2000, I watched the movie, ‘Shahid’ at a cinema. The movie impressed me so much that I decided to do something in the memory of our martyrs. We started the construction work of the temple at Rao village in 2007. The construction work of the temple is still going on”Surinder Sharma, member, ACS, said, “Members of the society and villagers clean the idols every evening before paying them homage.”

    Tejas misses target, IAF begins probe

    New Delhi, March 21The Indian Air Force is conducting a probe into reasons behind a bomb fired by Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) “Tejas” failing to hit its target during the exercise “Iron Fist 2016” at Pokhran, Rajasthan, on March 18. The LCA, that is nearing final operational clearance, also fired a missile, the ‘R73E’, which hit its target.A senior IAF functionary gave a clean chit to the LCA, its firing mechanisms and also its pilots, saying a laser-guided bomb (LGB) missed the target. “The miss is a not a big thing. It is a very ordinary occurrence which can be corrected,” the functionary said. Three separate IAF fighter jets had fired the laser-guided bombs and the one of the LCA failed. — TNS

    A minister and a Vice Chancellor

    Rana Siddiqui Zaman
    In an exclusive interview to The Tribune, Lieut-Gen Zameer Uddin Shah, the “controversial” Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, talks of his effort to open centres of AMU in the face of the humiliating attitude of the Human Resource Development Minister.

    The best reply to an insult is to maintain a dignified silence. This is what Lieutenant-General Zameer Uddin Shah, the “controversial” Aligarh Muslim University Vice Chancellor did just a few days ago, when he was humiliatingly snubbed by our literate, Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister, Smriti Irani. The reason? The HRD Ministry had decided to shut down five AMU education centres, spread across the country’s underprivileged hamlets in Mallapuram (Kerala),  Murshidabad (West Bengal) and Kishanganj (Bihar) and the proposed ones in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The three centres — Mallapuram, Murshidabad and Kishanganj — are functional, albeit on a shoe-string budget. Kerala Chief Minister Oomen Chandy had invited Shah to a meeting in Irani’s office for talking about funds for these centres. When Shah, after clarifying to the officials of the HRD Ministry that he had been invited by the CM for this meeting, entered her office, she asked curtly, “Who let you in?” Red-faced, Shah replied, pointing out at  Chandy, “The honourable Chief Minister has invited me to be a part of this meeting.” But to his and the Chief Minister’s shock, she snubbed Shah, asking, “Who will decide who should be in the meeting? Who pays your salary? the Kerala CM or the HRD Ministry?” A former General of the Indian Army, decorated with numerous medals, brimming with immense pride, the red-and-blue, gold-buttoned Army cap, Shah maintained a dignified silence. A Judge in the Army Court and the Deputy Chief of Army Staff, who left those coveted positions to further the best interests of young Indians by education through AMU, kept quiet. Shah, as I have known him as an AMU alumna, melts even an aggressive journalist with his humility, respect, and politeness. He does not evade any question. He escorts you till the door, opens it for you, doesn’t sit till you do, because you are a lady. He does not extend his hand to shake with a woman, which is more of his tarbiyat, a personal upbringing than an Army training (in which a hand shake is the prevalent and practised mode of greeting). He takes utmost care of his gestures while talking. He lowers his gaze often, talks softly, a khandani trait as I can aptly put it. That Shah didn’t react to the humiliation is a khandani attribute, of course. The talks started. The Vice Chancellor had come prepared. Shah, told me in an exclusive interview at the Vice Chancellor Lodge, AMU, Aligarh, a day after his meeting with the HRD Minister and the Prime Minister,  “I was told that some of my detractors within AMU, who were against these centres, had reportedly informed the HRD Minister that these centres are ‘illegal’. This was believed without any investigation. I was informed that they, therefore, wanted to shut down the functional as well as the proposed centres. “The proposal for AMU centres that I submitted, had been approved by the highest policy-making bodies, the AMU Executive Council and Court, the Government of India and the Visitor (President of India). The AMU Act 1920 (as amended) permits these centres under Section 12 (2) of the Act. Where did this ‘illegal’ angle spring from? It’s a rumour extracted from Act 12 (2) of AMU, which says that within 12 miles of the university mosque, the university cannot establish a school. “This was a British Act, to keep Muslims confined. But, the same Act also mentions that you can ‘establish centres’, something that has a sanction of even the Government of India.” Without investigating, the HRD Minister said it was ‘illegal’!” Significantly, the centres in MP and Rajasthan have not even been opened. The reason? When the Kishanganj Centre was opened a few years ago, some locals had protested and tried erecting a temple there, allegedly taking the centre as a means for some communal (read terrorist) activities. “The police threw them out. After that, the parliamentary committee on education, grilled me, and said, “These centres are leading to communal violence. So, no more centres please!” This grilling and full-stop on more centres was done without any investigation by the HRD Ministry. Furthermore, the governments of Rajasthan and MP did not take interest in the other two centres. Maharashtra, however, is keen on it though,” Shah revealed. Shah also presented the figures of how inadequate are the funds for the centres, established after sanctions by the Central Government. “After protracted efforts, a paltry sum of Rs 45 crore was sanctioned for three centres, which is grossly inadequate. As a result, hardly any construction /improvement is possible in these centres,” he submitted. Significantly, more humiliation was on the way. The next point at the meeting was on the inadequate funding of AMU. Banraras Hindu University, the same size as AMU, gets Rs 300 crore while AMU gets Rs 193 crore, even Jamia Millia Islamia, quarter the size of AMU, gets Rs 235 crore. While presenting these facts, the VC submitted, “AMU despite being among the high-ranking…”  Before Shah could complete the sentence, Irani, snubbed him again, saying, “I know how these rankings are obtained…” He politely added, “Madam, these rankings are done on ‘The Best Global Universities in India’  by two international ranking agencies — the Times Higher Education, London, and the US News and World Report. The former ranked AMU as 90th-best Asian University, eighth-best Indian higher education institute and second-best Indian university. The US News has placed it as the sixth-best university among top 10 in India. Plus, the UGC’s National Assessment Accreditation Council (NAAC) gave AMU a grade of point 3.35 out of 4, that has been achieved only by a handful of universities…” The HRD Minister, who is eloquent and does her homework before making a speech in public or Parliament, wasn’t perhaps ready for it.  A wise man once said that if you cannot cut a line shorter, draw a bigger line close to it. The other line will get shortened automatically. Shah proved it with his homework. Irani’s line clearly stood small. This document was submitted to the HRD Minister and the Prime Minister. Since the VC had also met the Prime Minister on this issue and that of minority character, he said, “The Prime Minister’s body language was positive. So, I hope my next meeting with the HRD Ministry will just be a formality.” He was right. The March 10 meeting of the VC with the HRD Ministry “was satisfactory”. But, again, Irani pointed out to the VC that no research work was being carried at the three AMU centres, to which the VC replied that research work would begin once funds were made available. She then urged the VC to meet Joint Secretary, MHRD, S S. Sandhu, who was also present at the meeting. Sandhu “assured” him that the funds approved by the Expenditure Finance Committee will be made available to the university “soon”. Whenever this “soon” happens, the big question is: what made Irani behave so irresponsibly with a learned Vice Chancellor, that too repeatedly when even the Prime Minister was “sympathetic, positive and respectful” to him?The VC said politely, “I don’t want to say anything. All I know is, for the better part of my life, I fought for my country, including in the 1971 war, managed insurgencies and controlled communal riots. It will take much more than that to humiliate me!” Sixtyseven-year-old Shah added: “In the Army, we are taught to respect women. Let’s focus on more important work. It does not affect me…” It has affected me, respected Vice Chancellor.  It should affect everyone who works with integrity. My conscience got worked up. It happens only in India!The writer is a Delhi-based critic.

    Call Army as last resort Lt-Gen Harwant Singh (retd)

    Calling in the Army to restore law and order by ignoring time-tested protocol does not have a salutary effect, as seen in the recent Jat violence in Haryana. The presence of placard-carrying soldiers failed to act as a deterrent and to curb arson and vandalism.

    Call Army as last resort
    The Army was called in by the civil administration to quell the Jat protests in Haryana. It must be given a free hand to restore law and order. AFP

    The Army is called in to aid the civil administration to cope with natural disasters or maintain law and order. Although the civil administration has adequate resources to cope with such contingencies, yet more often than not it sends out a call for help to the Army. The civil administration and the police are low on organisational skills, discipline and leadership. Often on such occasions, the civil administration just disappears from the scene as was seen during the recent floods in Uttarakhand and now during the Jat stir in Haryana. To maintain law and order and control the crowd, there are more than adequate state and central police forces. They are suitably armed to control unruly mobs and rioters. On their own they are in a position to handle riots and other cases of breakdown of law and order. At the drop of a hat, a call is made to the Army, as it happened in Haryana.  Earlier, to discourage the civil administration from making frivolous calls for the Army’s assistance, a certificate from the civil administration was required along with requisition of military help, stating that it has deployed all of its resources and the situation is well outside its control and, therefore, the Army’s help is being sought. This served a dual purpose: The civil administration made a genuine effort to control the situation and it indicated that it was truly grave, demanding  deployment of the Army. Consequently, it also justified the military’s firm action against rioters to restore order. In the case of subsequent court cases, it was possible for the military to justify its stern action.Under normal circumstances, a magistrate who gives written orders for the military to open fire on rampaging mobs is required to accompany a military column. The Army first makes an announcement through the public-address system to warn the crowd and ask it to disperse. If that goes unheeded, it may open fire adhering to the need for minimum force and fire to incapacitate and not kill. Very often, it is not possible to have a magistrate with each and every column, more so when there are wide-scale disturbances across the state, as was the case in Haryana. There was large-scale rioting, torching of government and private properties and looting of shops and assaults on certain sections of society. In such a situation, the officer commanding the concerned column has to act on his own.  Where casualties amongst rioters take place, more often than not, long legal battles ensue and the Army is called upon to justify its action. Very often its presence has the necessary salutary effect on the crowd and the task at hand is accomplished. A range of central police organisations, against the prevalent laws, have adopted the Army’s uniform, badges of ranks and other paraphernalia, making it difficult for the common man to distinguish the police from the Army. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Home Affairs has been complicit on this issue. Consequently, the all-important salutary effect of the Army’s presence on such occasions has been lost. Therefore, one saw the sad spectacle of military columns carrying placards stating that it is a military column carrying out flag marches. In law and order cases, it is most important to handle the situation firmly in the early stages, if not pre-empt it altogether. In event of large-scale rioting, spread over vast areas, firm action at one place has the desired effect at other locations as well. It instills fear and caution in the rioters. On the face of it, the very fact that the military has been called in, implies that the civil administration has exhausted all of its resources. Therefore, for the Army to effectively control such an adverse situation, it must have a free hand  and, consequently, the authority to use force at its own reckoning, with little legal binding.  This calls for amending the relevant laws.  A desperate situation, as obtaining in Haryana, calls for extraordinary measures. The situation was most ineptly handled and allowed to get out of hand. It was an obvious case of breakdown of administration and police failure as the rampaging mobs were allowed a free run. There are adequate police resources within Haryana to have effectively dealt with the developing situation. The police was nowhere to be seen as rioters indulged in arson, torching of cars and buses, looted a large number of  shops in many towns.  Some of them were already armed with weapons. The Ministry of Home Affairs has a large body of central police organisations. It should have made these available to Haryana. There was no need to seek the Army’s help. Since the military is called only as a last resort, it must act firmly and restore order. If it fails to control the situation, then what will follow will be anarchy and the state can only wither away. During the current disturbances in Haryana, the Army’s deployment did not have the desired effect and the arson and rioting continued because of alleged caution and restrictions on use of force imposed on it. Else it is difficult to explain the Army’s inability to control the situation early enough.  It was a replay of  the riots in Delhi in 1984 on a smaller scale. Then too the military was instructed not to open fire on the rioters and the mayhem continued for many days.  In Haryana, the situation improved only when the state government announced its willingness to consider rioters’ demand for reservation for Jats in government jobs. The issue of reservation for Jats in the OBC quota has been grossly mishandled. Little heed has been paid to the Supreme Court ruling in this case. Conceding the demands of Jats is bound to trigger a chain reaction. Similar demands will surface from many other communities across the country. Mobs indulging in arson, looting and rioting were essentially made up of young men and boys. They are part of the millions who are uneducated, half educated, without skills and frustrated because there are no jobs for them.  India’s young demographic dividend is in millions and poses a serious threat to peace. The country has failed to provide education and skills to this multitude and create job opportunities for them. The growth of population has gone unchecked, without an effort to educate masses on the advantages of small families. We need to provide jobs to a million young men every month and that appears to be beyond our capacity. In Haryana, perhaps coming events have cast a shadow.Given the spectre of lawlessness and ineffective administration, who would want to invest in Haryana?  Surely, events in Haryana will impact foreign investment in India on and adversely impact the Make-in-India drive. An inquiry by a retired police officer may not bring to light cases of dereliction of duty at various levels and uncover attempts at a cover-up. An inquiry by a sitting judge of the high court is required to enable facts to be brought to light and ensure remedial steps for the future.

    The writer, a retired Lt -General, is a defence analyst.

    Budget 2016: Depleting squadrons tell you why IAF needs an empathetic finance minister in Jaitley

    By Prakash Nanda

    Compared to its two sister services (Indian Army and Indian Navy), the Indian Air Force(IAF), the world’s fifth largest, is not only the most capital intensive but also the most dependent on foreign supplies. Whether it is fighter planes or transport fleets or mid-air refuellers or trainers or helicopters, the IAF buys everything from foreign vendors. Our indigenously produced fighter aircraft, Tejas (Light Combat Aircraft or LCA) is yet to get Final Operational Clearance (FOC) to be inducted into the IAF. And our indigenous helicopters like Dhurv, Cheetah and Chetak (the last two are licensed products of the French designs), produced at the Hindustan Aeronautical Ltd, are not good enough yet to carry on the advanced multi-task roles that a modern air force needs.

    IAF faces serious shortage of fighter aircraft. PIB

    This explains why usually the capital heading takes precedence over the revenue side in the total budgetary allocations for the IAF every year. That is why in the financial year 2015-16, in the Rs 56,107.74 crore that was allotted to the IAF (23 percent of the total defence budget), the ratio of the revenue and capital heads was 41:59. Of course in the previous 2014-15 budget, this ratio was better for the IAF – 39:61; but that does not dilute the point that the IAF spends more on acquisitions than on maintenance.

    However, given the challenges that the IAF faces, the fragile security environment that it operates in, and given the possibility of meeting two fronts simultaneously in a future war (Pakistan and China), the allocations on capital front are much below the genuine requirements of the IAF. That has been the trend so far. Last year, the IAF wanted more than Rs 70,000 crore for capital budget while the amount actually allocated was Rs. 33,107.658 crore, which was less than half of the projections. And here, the point to be noted is that of these allocations, there was a negligible amount earmarked for ‘New Schemes’ (less than Rs. 300 crore), the rest being meant for the previous schemes.

    As pointed out in a previous piece in this series, the Annual Acquisition Plan (AAP) of each Service is a two-year roll on plan for capital acquisitions and every AAP draft has ‘Part A’ comprising of carry over schemes from AAP of the previous year and approved schemes and ‘Part B’ that talks of new proposals. And it so happens that more than 90 percent of the capital budget goes on committed liabilities, leaving little for fresh acquisitions.

    It may be noted that the IAF has a long list of projects planned for induction. This includes the likes of 36 French Rafale Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (which alone will cost more than Rs 60,000 crore), Jaguar Re-engineering, additional Cheetal Helicopters, Medium Lift Helicopter Upgrade, additional Aerostats(radars), additional Dornier(light utility, mainly transport aircraft), additional Flight Refueling Aircraft(FRA), Additional Airborne Warning and Control System(AWACS), Additional Air Command and Control System (IACCS) Nodes, attack helicopters, heavy lift helicopters, Modernisation of Air Field Infrastructure (MAFI) phase II and very short-range air defence systems (VSHORADS).

    In addition, design development of Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft with Russia is under progress. We have also initiated the development of our very own Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft called Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA). Since obsolescence management as well as capability enhancement is a continuous process, the AMCA is planned to be inducted when some of our current fighter aircraft are reaching the end of their life. All this requires huge money.

    It is to be noted also that almost half of the fighter planes currently in use by the IAF are set to be decommissioned over the next nine years. Presently, IAF has 35 active fighter squadrons (this is what the IAF Chief, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha had told me in an interview recently) against government authorised strength of 42 Squadrons (going by IAF’s estimate, India actually needs 45 squadrons), though, according to the latest Parliamentary Standing Committee report on Defence, the actual strength may be down to 25 squadrons. No wonder why the Air Chief was very particular in emphasising that the “shortfall” in fighter aircraft strength must be made good through induction of the remaining contracted Su-30 MKI(with Russia), LCA, Rafale and other suitable fighter aircraft.

    The IAF is desperate to achieve the sanctioned strength of 42 Fighter Squadrons as soon as possible. This is all the more so when great number of MiG crashes over the past decade have depleted the fleet (1960 vintage Soviet-built MiG-21 combat jets formed hitherto the backbone of our air power) to ensure that its force levels do not diminish drastically.

    In other words, the procurement needs of the IAF are very high, both for acquisitions and upgradation plans. But, not much is being done about it currently, thanks to poor budgetary allocations.

    If the past trend is any indication, similar is also the story as far as the revenue budget (broadly for the salaries, perks and maintenance of the existing assets) of the IAF is concerned. The amount projected by Air Force was more than Rs 30,000 crore last year while the actually allocated amount was Rs 23,009.094 crore. This year, the expectation will go up, given the Seventh Pay Commission report. So more than 50 percent of the revenue budget will go to meet the salary requirements alone.

    The resultant constraint will certainly impact procurement of spares and fuel and maintenance of older systems (which generally needs more maintenance). Incidentally, spares are crucial for the IAF as there is already a huge shortage of air fleet from the sanctioned strength; without spares there will be a terrible shortfall in serviceability, which, in turn, will impact the operational capability of the IAF adversely. Then there are some unforeseen expenditures that the IAF meets from its revenue head; these include disaster relief (as was the case in Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir).

    In sum, whether it is the capital heading (so crucial for the modernisation of the IAF, or the revenue side (so critical for the operational effectiveness of the IAF), the budgetary allocations are abysmally inadequate. All the more reason why the IAF needs an empathetic, not sympathetic, finance minister. Will Arun Jaitley be one such minister, given the fact that he was Narendra Modi’s first defence minister, even though for a short time?

    Decorated washerman waited for promised land till his last breath

    Vijay Mohan,Tribune News Service,Chandigarh, March 6

    His tale of courage is as old as the history of Independent India. While it is rare for a civilian to be decorated for gallantry in war, it is not so rare for the government to forget such tales and leave them in the lurch.The Punjab government is yet to fulfil its promise of allotting 10 acres to Ram Chander, a washerman hailing from Jalandhar, who was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra (MVC) in the 1947 operations against Pakistani intruders. He is one of the only two civilians to have been awarded the MVC.Ram Chander unsuccessfully struggled for the next 50 years to get his due from the government. After he died in 1998, his widow, Tara Devi (75) made several representations to the state government and even met the Jalandhar DC but to no avail.A civilian washerman attached with an Engineers company of Madras Sappers, Chander was part of a convoy proceeding to Jammu under the command of Lt FDW Fallon on 18 December, 1947. When the convoy reached Bhambla, it was ambushed by the enemy who had created a roadblock by removing the decking on a bridge. Chander helped the convoy commander to replace the decking while the bridge was under continuous fire.The officer was wounded and Ram Chander took the officer’s rifle and helped in holding the enemy at bay and was responsible for inflicting five to six casualties on the enemy.The convoy commander was forced to abandon his vehicle due to heavy enemy firing and in the process both he and the convoy commander got separated from the rest of the convoy. He helped the officer, who was in a state of collapse due to loss of blood, to the nearest post which was eight miles away.Ram Chander’s wife Tara Devi, who was here along with her son Mukesh to attend the ongoing Triennial convention of the War Decorated India, an association of gallantry award winners, is living in penury and manages her affairs with a monthly financial assistance of just Rs 5,000 that is given to spouses of MVC awardees.“My husband could not get what was promised to him and now I am also in the twilight of my life. I have three sons and a daughter and my only wish is that they should get the land promised to their father for his courage and devotion to duty. It will ensure a good future for my children who doing small-time jobs,” Tara Devi said.

    MVC Dhobi Ram Chander

    • Civilian Dhobi Ram Chander was part of a convoy proceeding to Jammu under the command of Lt FDW Fallon on December 18, 1947
    • When the convoy reached Bhambla, it was ambushed by the enemy who had created aroadblock by removing the decking on a bridge
    • Dhobi Ram Chander helped the convoy commander replace the decking while the bridge was under continuous fire
    • On Lt Fallon being wounded, he took the officer’s rifle and helped in holding the enemy at bay and was responsible for inflicting five to six casualties on the enemy

    China increases defence budget by 7.6 per cent

    China increases defence budget by 7.6 per cent
    China’s People’s Liberation Army soldiers on their armoured vehicles equipped with anti-aircraft artillery roll to Tiananmen Square during the military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, in Beijing on September 3, 2015. Reuters file

    Beijing, March 5

    China today increased its defence budget by 7.6 per cent to $146 billion for this year, citing militarisation of the Asia-Pacific, especially the disputed South China Sea, and deepening tensions with the US.The increase is the lowest in defence spending in six years in the wake of economic slowdown. China’s GDP growth last year declined to the lowest in 26 years to 6.9 per cent.Defending the increase in defence budget, National People’s Congress (NPC) spokesperson Fu Ying blamed US for the militarisation of the Asia-Pacific, especially the South China Sea (SCS), which in recent months has become new theatre of conflict between the two countries.Some people have connected China with SCS issue and militarisation of the region. The issue of militarisation has been hyped up and misleading, she said.China claims almost the whole of the resource-rich South China Sea (SCS). Its claim, however, is strongly contested by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.In October, USS Lassen, a guided missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island China is building in the Spratly Islands.China strongly protested the move, saying the US act severely violated Chinese law, sabotaged the peace, security and good order of the waters, and undermined the region’s peace and stability.According to a budget report to the national legislature annual session, the government plans to raise the 2016 defence budget by 7.6 per cent to 954 billion yuan (about $146 billion).The new increase, lower than last year’s 10.1 per cent, widens the gap further with the Indian defence budget which stood around $40 billion.”Talking about the militarisation if we look at the advanced aircraft and ships entering the area, majority of them from US,” Ying said, adding that it was America which decided to deploy 70 per cent of its naval assets under its Asia Pivot strategy.”Isn’t it militarisation?” Ying asked in reply, adding that by wrongly accusing China’s militarisation in the waters is misleading.”Most of Chinese lawmakers and ordinary people are not pleased and do not agree with the US showing off military power by sending warships to waters close to the SCS islands and reefs,” she said.Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who presented a word report to this year’s inaugural session, proposed a 6.5 per cent target for the GDP this year. It would, however, break a multi-year run of double-digit increases in China’s defence budget, and mark the slowest growth in six years.The raise will make the world’s second largest economy the second largest defence spender, both next to the US.Obama proposed a $534-billion defence budget package for the 2016 fiscal year, about 3.6 times China’s budget this year. This year’s new increase will do little to close that gap, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. — PTI