Sanjha Morcha

What’s New

Click the heading to open detailed news
  • Current Events :

    Print Media Defence Related News

    Snow at Rohtang hits snow-clearing ops

    Snow at Rohtang hits snow-clearing ops
    Fresh snowfall at Keylong in Lahaul-Spiti on Thursday Photo Jai Kumar

    Dipender Manta

    Tribune News Service

    Mandi, March 15

    The inclement weather hampered the snow-clearing operation on the Manali-Leh highway by the Border Roads Organisation today. The Rohtang Pass has been closed since December for the traffic movement because of heavy snowfall.The weather had been cloudy since morning and later it started raining and snowing in the area, which forced the BRO to pull back its workforce because the area is prone to snow avalanches.The BRO had started snow-clearing operation on March 13. It had engaged five teams comprising 22 persons in a team from the Koksar and Gulaba side to execute the task.Talking to The Tribune, BRO Commander Colonel AK Awasthi said “Since morning, the weather had been inclement and it started snowing heavily, forcing us to pull back our workforce in view of safety.”He said, “The area is prone to avalanches and during rain, the probability of avalanche is higher. We have moved a few kilometres ahead of the Beas Nullah toward Rohtang, where snow is up to 20 feet high.”“The opening of Rohtang will depend on the weather conditions because last year, also we had the same experience which delayed the snow-clearing operation. The BRO is focusing on connecting Rohtang with Lahaul as soon as possible for the benefit of the people of the tribal district,” he said.Meanwhile, Lahaul-Spiti also received a mild snowfall, which plummeted the temperature drastically. The traffic was hampered in the district because of the fresh snowfall.

    China on mind, India, France step up ties

    Greater defence cooperation in Indian Ocean | Move aimed to check Beijing’s influence in Indo-Pacific

    China on mind, India, France step up ties
    Joining Hands: French President Emmanuel Macron (centre), his wife Brigitte Macron, President Ram Nath Kovind, his wife Savita Kovind (left) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi hold hands during Macron’s ceremonial reception in New Delhi on Saturday. Tribune Photo: Mukesh Aggarwal

    Smita Sharma

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, March 10

    Two decades since India, then facing heat from western nations in the aftermath of nuclear tests, signed its first strategic partnership with France in 1998, the partners today stepped up cooperation in the Indian Ocean significantly. French President Emmanuel Macron and PM Narendra Modi at delegation-level talks agreed on a reciprocal logistics agreement between their armed forces as well as a joint strategic vision document on the Indian Ocean region. This is along the lines of a vision document announced with the US on the Indo-Pacific in 2015. The agreement with France will facilitate authorised port visits by naval vessels and reciprocal logistics support during joint exercises, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. (Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)“I consider today’s agreement on reciprocal logistics support between our armies as a golden step in the history of our close defence cooperation. Second, both of us believe that in future the Indian Ocean region will play a very important role in the happiness, progress and prosperity of the world,” said Modi. With China expanding military bases in the Indo-Pacific from Hambantota to Djibouti, the two countries shared their concern on “respect of international laws by all states, in particular freedom of navigation and overflight.”India has a coastline of 7,500 km, more than 1,380 islands and 2 million sq km of exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the region. France has a military base in Reunion Island and 1.6 million of its citizens reside in the territory owned in the Indo-Pacific, including a 9.1 million sq km of EEZ. Indian and French space agencies will now provide end-to-end solution for detection, identification and monitoring of vessels in the region. “We do not want militarisation of the region but our partnership will add to the stability of the region,” remarked Macron. Overall, 14 agreements were exchanged between the two sides, including on exchange and reciprocal protection of classified or protected information and finding a way forward to expedite the stalled Jaitapur nuclear power plant to be built by the French state-controlled EDF. Once installed, it will be the largest nuclear power plant in the world with a total capacity of 10,000 MW. Transfer of technology, guaranteed fuel supply for the plant and liability issues have been sticking points in negotiations that began in 2009.On counter-terrorism, the joint statement names groups including Al-Qaida, ISIS, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba with an agreement to strengthen counter-terrorism efforts at multilateral fora such as the UN, Financial Action Task Force) and G20.14 agreements signed; Jaitapur N-plant, counter-terrorism on list

    • In all, 14 pacts were signed between the two sides, including one on finding a way forward to expedite the stalled Jaitapur nuclear power plant contract
    • To be built by the French State-controlled EDF, it will be the largest nuclear power plant in the world with a capacity of 10,000 MW
    • Pact on strengthening counter-terrorism efforts at multilateral fora, such as the UN, Financial Action Task Force and G20

    JCO took bullets to save family

    JCO took bullets to save family
    JCO Madan Lal Choudhary

    Sumit Hakhoo & Sanjay Pathak

    Tribune News Service

    Bakrak village (Kathua), February 11The bravado of 50-year-old Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) Madan Lal Choudhary helped save several lives during Saturday’s terror attack.The JCO’s family was in Jammu to shop for nephew Sandeep’s marriage. Chaman Choudhary, a relative, said Madan Lal was at his quarters with wife Charnjeet Kour, daughter Neha, sister-in-law Paramjeet Kour and nephew Sandeep when terrorists tried to enter the complex.(Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)“I was sleeping in the lobby when a gunshot woke me up around 5 am. As I tried to move towards the door, my uncle dragged me inside a room and asked the family members to flee from the rear door,” said Sandeep. “As we tried to escape, Neha was shot in the leg, but managed to come out. My uncle was shot in the stomach and chest as he tried to block their entry,” said Sandeep.Madan Lal’s elder brother Shamsher Choudhary said: “Three generations of our family have served in the Army. His martyrdom has left us devastated. The JCO was to retire in December.”Inder Choudhary, his octogenarian father, had served in J&K Militia — raised in 1947 to resist the Pakistani invaders. Later christened Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry in 1972, Madan Lal joined the force in 1988. The martyr’s son is a commissioned officer.“My son fought terrorists with bare hands to save the family and others. He is our hero but my heart is full of sorrow,” said Inder Choudhary, as he awaited his son’s mortal remains to arrive at native Bakrak village. The martyr is survived by his parents, wife, two children, five brothers and five sisters. His daughter is undergoing treatment in Jammu.

    Missing the Goldilocks fix Creating illusions of inclusion BY Harish Khare

    Missing the Goldilocks fix
    Illustration by Sandeep Joshi

    Harish Khare

    Just as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was warming up for the Budget speech, news was trickling in of the BJP candidates trailing in the three byelections, two for the Lok Sabha and one for the Assembly, in Rajasthan. By the time the two Budget speeches — one by the Finance Minister and the second by the Prime Minister —were over, the counting was also over and the ruling party had been handed down a decisive rebuff. An even more comprehensive a defeat was slammed down the BJP’s throat in the two byelections in West Bengal; for the Uluberia Lok Sabha seat, the victory margin for the TMC candidate was a staggering 2,89,557. Hence, the million Renminbi question: has  Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s 2018-2019 Budget ensured that the BJP and its NDA allies get home dry in the next Lok Sabha elections, whenever it is held? The answer is not all that self-evident, except may be to the most partisan mind. Before the latest Rajasthan and West Bengal bypoll verdicts we had the Gujarat Assembly results in December 2017. The BJP, it need be recalled, had barely managed to scrape through, despite all the heavy lifting by the Prime Minister. The writing on the wall was clear. Any intelligent analyst could draw the inference: the rural economy was hurting and the farmers were in distress and had more than one reason to feel angry and unhappy with the ruling party. The shadow of the Gujarat verdict is quite discernible on Arun Jaitley’s performance on Thursday. The Finance Minister has discovered the garib and has felt himself compelled to make a pretence of quelling the farmers’ anger, just as he has felt he had the political luxury of giving a cold shoulder to the urban middle classes, especially the salaried segment. After all, the urban middle classes have nowhere else to go; instead, they are being asked to feel satisfied with all the promises of good governance that have been held out all these years.At the very outset, the Finance Minister cockily asserted that the government would do the right thing by the economy, without worrying about the political costs; a brave statement, any day. Yet, it need be recognised that the Budget has increasingly been reduced to an exercise in talking the economy up. The occasion gives everybody and his second cousin — the economists, the market “experts”, the chambers of commerce, the pink press, the business channels, the corporate crowd, the ruling party’s ministers and minions — to find a reason to celebrate “growth”. It is also obligatory to hail the Finance Minister for good intentions and for giving a few policy breaks to those who live in “Bharat”.     It is regarded as bad form and bad punditry and bad taste to raise questions of capacity or competence of the government to implement the schemes so grandly unveiled. But then, the hidden — or perhaps not so hidden — purpose is to create a political momentum for the government of the day. And, in any case, the current NDA government cannot be accused of lacking in the art of self-promotion and in manufacturing a buzz.Still, economic progress and growth are not created by political bluff and bluster.  At the end of the day, every finance minister’s primary duty is to produce a sound, conscientious and prudent management of the national resources and finances towards collective well-being. It is a grave burden and requires formidable skills and competence. Arun Jaitley has been the most hemmed in Finance Minister since Independence. His tragedy is that he has simply not had the luxury of disenthralling himself of his own Prime Minister’s slogans and shibboleths. It was no surprise, though a bit disappointing, that even in his Budget disquisition he felt constrained to pay obeisance to the Prime Minister’s humble origins. Immovable, populist pressures and electoral calculations apart, no finance minister has the total luxury to ignore the long-terms interests of the Indian economy; and, these terms are defined — rather laid down — by outsiders, the international investor, the World Bank/IMF, the rating agencies, and our own corporate houses. Each government is obliged to demonstrate its ability and willingness to stay the course. And, to his credit, Arun Jaitley has eschewed the temptation of recklessness, in this election year. Yet, elections have to be won. And, every economy scenario produces its own tapestry of pain and profits. After four years of wooing the “investment” community, of cajoling the corporate India to invest and create jobs and to usher in achhe din, of beseeching the Davos crowd to come to the “Make in India” show, time has come to woo the Indian voter — without turning off the “investment” constituency. To a certain extent, the Finance Minister has been mindful of the supreme requirement to maintain the creditworthiness of the Indian economy. To that extent, it is a Budget of a regime that feels confident of winning the next election and, therefore, is not in a hurry to sell the store away.  It is perhaps unfair to try to judge a finance minister’s budget by the templates prescribed by Dr Subramanian Swamy, a man who desperately wanted to be finance minister, but had been assiduously kept away from coming anywhere near North Block.  A few days before the Budget, Dr Swamy, who legitimately fancies himself as more knowledgeable an economist than Arun Jaitley, had argued that economic reforms and vikas alone just did not win elections. According to Dr Swamy, the only way the BJP could win the 2019 Lok Sabha was to go to the people on an aggressive Hindutva plank. In other words, the Kasganj option. Dr Swamy may still prevail over Jaitley.

    Pak again rakes up Kashmir issue during UNSC debate

    Pak again rakes up Kashmir issue during UNSC debate
    Earlier this week, the UN had ruled out any mediation effort on Kashmir. iStock photo

    United Nations, January 27

    Days after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres ruled out any mediation effort between India and Pakistan, Islamabad’s top envoy to the world body raised the Kashmir issue during a UN Security Council debate on the Middle East.

    As usual there were no takers for Maleeha Lodhi, the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, during the debate on the current volatile situation in the Middle East.

    “Pakistan will continue to support the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians, as indeed, people living under foreign occupation elsewhere as for example in Kashmir,” Lodhi said while participating in the Security Council discussion on Thursday.

    “This esteemed body must live up to its responsibilities and ensure the implementation of its own resolutions on Palestine and other longstanding disputes such as Kashmir so that people of the world do not lose entire faith in the United Nations,” she said.

    Earlier this week, the UN had ruled out any mediation effort on Kashmir and encouraged India and Pakistan to address all their outstanding issues through dialogue.

    Relations between India and Pakistan have been strained recently following a series of attacks by Pakistan-based terror groups and incidents of ceasefire violations, causing casualties on both sides.

    India is opposed to any third-party intervention in resolving the Kashmir issue while Pakistan has continuously sought mediation to sort out the differences. PTI

    IMPORTANT EMAILS OF REGIMENTAL AND WEBSITE :::A helping hand to our Veterans specially in PBOR grp

    Many a times, while submitting representations of fellow veterans regarding pension or other issues, it was always felt that Army establishments especially Record Offices don’t have official email IDs; but we were wrong.
    Yesterday, I came across a list of email addresses, which I feel worth sharing:
    Below is the list E-mail IDs of the Record Offices of the Indian Army. (Received from YR Raghavan Vet, Via Gp e-mail)
    It is easy and fast to communicate with them via e-mail rather than the traditional letter writing method which takes a lot of time:
    ASC (S)
    BEG (K)
    BEG (R)
    Mech Inf
    Garh Rif
    JAK Rif
    ASC (AT)
    SIKH Regt
    Raj Rif
    14 GR
    39 GR
    58 GR
    JAK LI
    Assam Regt
    Army Avn
    11 GR
    Ladakh Scouts
    GRD (G)
    GRD (K)
    ROIE, Kathmandu

    Why in Mumbai, go guard border: Gadkari to Navy

    Why in Mumbai, go guard border: Gadkari to Navy
    Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister

    Shiv Kumar

    Tribune News Service

    Mumbai, January 11

    In an unprecedented attack, Union Minister for Shipping and Transport Nitin Gadkari today hit out at the naval top brass for denying permission to the construction of a floating hotel, or floatel, and a private jetty in the Arabian Sea.He said the floatel and jetty construction near the Malabar Hill base did not pose any security risk. “What has the Navy to do with Malabar Hill? They (naval personnel) should guard the country’s borders. You should go to the Pakistan border and do patrolling,” Gadkari said at the foundation stone-laying ceremony for the International Cruise Terminal here.Among those who present on the occasion included Vice Admiral Girish Luthra, Chief, Western Naval Command.Incidentally, the site of the proposed floatel and the jetty for it are located just a few kilometres from where Ajmal Kasab and his fellow terrorists from Pakistan landed on November 26, 2008.Continuing with his harangue against the naval authorities, Gadkari alleged the men in white were after the minister to allot plots for housing. “These Navy officers wanted a plot to build houses in south Mumbai. I will not give you even one inch of land. Why do you want to build houses in south Mumbai? I will not entertain you,” he said. Gadkari went on to say that he headed a committee to clear stalled infrastructure projects and would push for the construction of the floating jetty and hotel when the project comes on the agenda.“We are the government, the Navy and the Defence Ministry are not the government,” he added. The Navy and the Coast Guard had earlier refused to give green signal to the little-known private company, Rashmi Development Private Ltd, to build a floating hotel in Arabian Sea and construct a jetty near Malabar Hill to offer seaplane services and ferry tourists to the floatel. The agencies had warned of security threats to several vital installations, if private firms and foreigners were allowed access to the coast.Gadkari is aggressively pushing for construction of tourism-based infrastructure along Maharashtra coast.

    ‘Won’t give an inch of land for housing’What has the Navy to do with Malabar Hill? They (naval personnel) should guard the country’s borders. You should go to the Pakistan border and do patrolling. —Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for shipping and transport

    Why China’s the winner BY MK Bhadrakumar

    Why China's the winner
    Chinese President Xi Jinping”s visit to India exposed India”s present-day predicament.

    THE  Indian media discourse on foreign policy, customary to New Year, once again couldn’t see the wood for the trees. To be sure, in January, foreign policy discourse will narrow down to two glamorous events — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit and the motorcade of ASEAN leaders to witness the spectacular Republic Day parade on Rajpath. But in the brouhaha of event management, the ‘big picture’ gets lost. The  year 2018 has begun trotting toward the canter in what promises to be an extraordinary period in regional politics. The ‘big picture’ becomes important because compared to the bipolar Cold War era when the struggle was ideological and power flowed through the barrel of the gun, the alchemy of Sino-American rivalry is different. It harks back to the 17th century — or, more appropriately, to the later 18th century when the struggle in the Age of Discovery morphed into the colonial rivalry between Great Britain and France seeking dominance over the subcontinent through proxy native rulers and also by direct intervention. Tipu Sultan’s defeat in 1799 marginalised the French influence and led to the rapid expansion of British power. The war in Afghanistan has become an analogous event. Trading rivalries have been at the root of the ebb and flow of modern history. However, Indian diplomacy revels in viewing Afghanistan through the geopolitical prism and pays scant attention to the economic dimension, although good politics is invariably about the creation of wealth. Arguably, what provokes the Trump administration most regarding Pakistan could be its acquiescence to the Chinese agenda to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan and Central Asia, and connect it with the China-Central Asia-West Asia Economic Corridor. China’s far-reaching move to bring Pakistan and Afghanistan under its BRI canopy makes complete nonsense of the raison d’etre of the establishment of permanent American bases in the region. China will be the real ‘winner’ now, whether the US wins the Afghan war or not. The mother of all ironies is that Beijing simply borrowed and finessed the underpinning of the American strategy labelled as ‘New Silk Road’ (outlined first in July 2011 in a speech at Chennai by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton), which intended to link up Central Asia with South Asia, but in reality aimed at creating transportation routes to evacuate the vast mineral resources of Inner Asia to the world market. It was only one year earlier, in June 2010, that the New York Times first reported the existence of “an internal Pentagon memo” based on the secret findings of a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists regarding “nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves… The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium —are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centres in the world.” Clearly, India is missing the plot time and again — be it in Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh or Afghanistan — because its obsessively security-centric regional strategy based on geopolitics, with an eye on China, is out of sync with what the Germans would call ‘zeitgeist’ (spirit of the times.) China is playing a much bigger game. The tools are quintessentially the same as of the Great Britain in the 19th century (transfer of wealth from colonies to ‘mother ship’) or the US’ (Marshall Plan, Breton Woods, etc) — namely, economic tools. China’s style varies, inevitably, because this is a globalised world. Basically, China is unlikely to use military power to establish hegemony and will rely on economic tools. The spirits of Jallianwala Bagh or the ghost of Salvador Allende will not haunt China’s banquet table. The BRI may not be philanthropy but is not usury by a stretch, either. There is, admittedly, a ‘win-win’ content to it. We may expect China to chip away at dollar’s artificially propped up status as world currency, and when that gains traction, America’s decline will accelerate dramatically. The BRI, by creating a new supply chain, provides a platform. On January 2, interestingly, Pakistan’s Central Bank announced that Chinese Yuan will be an approved foreign currency for trade and investments. Suffice to say, the ‘militarisation’ of our foreign policy is not going to take us far. We are getting all dressed up with nowhere to go. During former PM Manmohan Singh’s leadership, we began relying on economic diplomacy as the key template of foreign policy. The respect Manmohan Singh commanded from Barack Obama and Wen Jiabao alike was due to the forward-looking vision he displayed. (The RIC, BRICS, membership of SCO, AIIB, G20, etc. belong to that era.) Alas, the Indian foreign policy has since been regressive. Prime Minister Modi has the ingenuity to figure a way out of the present impasse without quite appearing to follow his predecessor’s path-breaking footfalls. The all-too-apparent dichotomy during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Ahmedabad and New Delhi exposed India’s present-day predicament. The US is doomed to lose the struggle in our region because it has nothing in its repertoire to match the BRI. The US is caught in a time warp. The elites refuse to see that American exceptionalism is over and imperialism has overreached. Thus, the impetus to retool is simply not there. India too lacks the capacity to create a counter-narrative to the BRI, which also has a staggering global dimension to it. Our intellectual challenge lies in making use of the BRI to India’s best advantage. If China could persuade a reluctant Pakistan to let the CPEC run through the Khyber across the disputed Durand Line into the seamless Central Asian steppes, it should be possible for Beijing to propose a small loop in an easterly direction somewhere to bring it into our Punjab. The optimal way to address problematic relationships is always by making the adversary a stakeholder. The writer is a former ambassador

    Amarinder Singh in Anandpur Sahib; promises new industries

    Amarinder Singh in Anandpur Sahib; promises new industries
    Former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh at Anandpur Sahib for the 350th birth anniversary celebrations of Sikh Guru Gobind Singh on Sunday. Tribune photo: Manoj Mahajan

    Anandpur Sahib, December 17

    Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh announced the revival of urban development authority at Anandpur Sahib, and promised to set up subsidiary units of new industries in the district’s Kandi area.

    Singh, who was in Anandpur Sahib on Sunday for the 350th birth anniversary celebrations of Sikh Guru Gobind Singh, promised a crusher zone and an automobile factory for manufacturing heavy vehicles in the region. He also said the state government was considering a proposal to set up a food park in the area.

    India, China revive talks on DGMO-level hotline issue

    Ajay Banerjee

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, December 17

    India and China have revived their long-pending issue of setting up a telephonic hotline at the level of Director-General Military Operations (DGMO).The matter was revived at a meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs in Beijing last month. The two sides are now coordinating on how to have a Mandarin-to-English translator in India and the reverse of it in China. The telephonic talk between the two senior officers may be done like a conference call with translators listening in to transcribe, on either side.This is being done in the backdrop of the 20th round of special representatives (SR) talks on boundary resolution in New Delhi on December 21-22. National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval and his counterpart, state councillor Yang Jiechi, will discuss the entire gamut of bilateral relations, including the situation along the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control (LAC). This is the first SR-level meeting since the 73-day military standoff at Doklam.Since the two are responsible for boundary resolution, they are expected to discuss measures to maintain peace and tranquillity along the LAC.The issue of the DGMO-level hotline was discussed at a higher level in April 2016 during the visit of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to China. A draft agreement was exchanged, but there were hurdles of language and also for China to identify an officer at the rank of the DGMO-a three-star lieutenant general.At present, India and China have five border personnel meeting points along the Himalayas, where formation commanders on either side discuss local irksome issues. A DGMO-level hotline will be for overall talks when matters heat up.