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Soon, soldiers may not have to serve as sahayaks in army

EMPLOYMENT OF SOLDIERS AS SAHAYAKS HAS BEEN CRITICISED ON GROUNDS THAT IT LOWERS THEIR DIGNITY AND SELF-RESPECT

NEW DELHI: The army seems all set to sweep its sahayak system into the past, a step that will put an end to the practice of combatants serving as man Fridays to officers.

A senior officer said a plan to recruit service assistants, who will eventually replace sahayaks in the 1.2-million strong army, is being worked out. The Navy and the Air Force do not have such a system, which happens to be a relic of the colonial rule.

Employment of soldiers as sahayaks has been frequently criticised on the grounds that it lowers their dignity and selfrespect, and parliamentary panels have repeatedly called for abolishing the system. The army is now tweaking the system to ensure that fighting men do not have to serve in such roles.

Unlike washermen and cooks, sahayaks do not carry out a listed trade in the army. They are regular soldiers drawn out of fighting and support formations to serve officers.

“If all goes well, the service assistants will be enlisted as sahayaks. That will be their main job during peacetime. However, they will also be trained in combat-related functions so they can double as soldiers in case war breaks out. The final modalities are being worked out,” said another officer.

The army lists strict do’s and don’ts on sahayak employment, but there have been instances of soldiers being made to do insignificant and unsoldierly household tasks. Sahayaks aren’t supposed to venture beyond duties such as maintaining an officer’s uniform and weapons, or serving as his ‘buddy’ in combat.


11 Sainik School boys make to NDA, 2 to IMA

Jalandhar, May 24

It has been a proud moment for Sainik School Kapurthala as 11 of its cadets have been selected in the NDA examination, the results of which have been declared by the Services Selection Board.The successful aspirants will join the 136th NDA course commencing in July. The successful candidates include Harman Bajwa, Ankit Alok, Akashdeep Singh, Kashish Suneja, Jasnoor Singh, Gurkamalpreet Singh, Nitish Bains, Tapeesh Gautam and Rishav Chandel of the present batch. Three students of the last year’s batch – Amritpal Singh, Harkirat Singh and Shashikant- too have cleared the exam. While Harman is the son of school teachers Malkinder Singh Bajwa and Harjinder Kaur, Jasnoor’s mother Narinder Kaur is also from the teaching staff here. In addition, two boys from the school-Vivek Tewari and Aman Kumar have also cleared CDS and will be joining the Indian Military Academy Dehradun. The students and their parents have thanked the teachers for making their wards get through the tough entrance. Principal Group Captain Shakti Sharma said that a number of steps had been taken to improve the results by holding lectures on current topics, group discussions, open forum sessions, motivational lectures and improving discipline, conduct and communication skills of the cadets.—TNS


2 YEARS OF MODI SARKAR Foundation laid, it’s time to deliver

Foundation laid, it’s time to deliver
Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 22

In the past two years, the Ministry of Defence has showed its intent of bridging gaps in battle readiness. But over the next three years the Narendra Modi-led government needs to implement the same by procuring fighter jets, artillery guns, bulletproof jackets, torpedoes and helicopters among other items.Though policy changes have been made, a case of increasing the limit for Foreign Direct Investment is pending. Expectedly, the ‘Make in India’ agenda has taken some time to show on ground.Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has been at the helm since November 2015 and his biggest challenge is to reduce the import bill and dependence on imports from the US, Russia, Ukraine and France. India yet again emerged as the world’s largest buyer of weapons and military equipment, accounting for some 14 per cent of all such international imports, a report of the Sweden-based think-tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in March this year.Parrikar has announced an amendment to the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) that gives more importance to local products.The Modi government has taken key decisions to have an indigenous artillery gun programme, make the light transport aircraft in private sector in India and produce the Russian Kamov light utility helicopters here, but everything will take time to fructify. The three services collectively need around 1,000 copters. Conversely, the purchase of 36 Rafale jets from France in a fly-away condition and the decision to procure 145 ultra light howitzers (ULH) from the US is still not done.The indigenous nuclear submarine, INS Arihant, is on sea trials and so is the conventional sub Kalvari.A deepening military alliance with Japan has formalised a US-India-Japan grouping, a fact not palatable to Beijing while New Delhi has deepened ties with countries involved in the South China Sea.Focus of the MoD will have to be on building roads along the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. Four strategic railway lines have been approved and will need attention.

Achievements

  • Key decisions taken to have an indigenous artillery gun programme, make the light transport aircraft in private sector and produce the Russian Kamov light utility helicopters in India
  • Amendment to the Defence Procurement Procedure that gives more importance to local products, hence increased focus on ‘Make in India’
  • Indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant and conventional sub Kalvari are on sea trials

Downside

  • India remains the biggest importer of weapons and military equipment, accounting for some 14 per cent of all such international imports
  • Procedures are taking long, which is holding back changes. The purchase of 36 Rafale jets from France in a fly-away condition and procurement of 145 ultra light howitzers from the US is yet to be sealed
  • Demand to increase FDI limit from existing 26 per cent

Ladakh students join Army schools

Ladakh students join Army schools
Lt Gen DS Hooda, GOC-in-C, Northern Command, with APS and AGPS students at Nyoma village of Leh district. A Tribune photo

Jammu, May 18

Thirty students from remote areas of the Ladakh region have been sponsored by the Army to study in Army Public School (APS), Beas, in Punjab, Drona Boys Hostel in Udhampur and Army Goodwill Public School (AGPS) in Pehalgam.The students interacted with Lieutenant General DS Hooda, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command, at Nyoma village of Leh, before they proceed to APS and AGPS Schools run by the Army, said Defence spokesperson Col SD Goswami.Lt Gen Hooda encouraged the students to not only do well in academics but also excel in sports.“Assistance in providing quality education to the students of the Ladakh region will go a long way in the progress of remote areas of the country,” said Col Goswami.The sponsored project by the Army is conducted under the “Operation Sadbhavana”. — TNS


Can’t Divulge Information On Mountain Strike Corps: Manohar Parrikar

Can't Divulge Information On Mountain Strike Corps: Manohar Parrikar

Manohar Parrikar refused to divulge information on the Mountain Strike Corps being raised by the Indian Army.

NEW DELHI:  Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday refused to divulge information on the Mountain Strike Corps being raised by the Indian Army, saying it would not be in the “national interest”.

The minister was asked in the Rajya Sabha whether the “most ambitious plan to deal with Chinese challenge — raising a dedicated Mountain Strike Corps — was languishing for lack of government attention and financial allocation”.

Rajya Sabha member Dilip Kumar Tirkey also asked him about “the future strategy of the government to deal with Chinese challenges”.

The defence minister, in a written reply, said: “Military capacity enhancement is a dynamic and continuous process based on threat perception. Appropriate measures including force accretion are accordingly taken from time to time to safeguard the sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of the country.”

“However, disclosure of further details in this regard on the floor of the house will not be in the national interest,” Mr Parrikar said.

Following reports that the army was struggling to raise the Mountain Strike Corps due to lack of budgetary support, Army chief General Dalbir Singh said in January that the corps will be raised by 2021, keeping the timeline of nine years decided initially.

According to sources, the Army Commanders’ Conference that is underway in the national capital will also discuss the issue.

The Mountain Strike Corps is being raised with focus on China, along the eastern border in the Himalayas.


Army denies ‘mutiny’ in unit in Northeast

The Indian Army on Sunday denied there was a “mutiny” in an infantry unit in the northeast after the death of a soldier during training.
The army, however, said, that an officer was injured when a few soldiers became agitated and scuffled with seniors following the death.
The army said there was no “mutiny-like” situation.
“A case of death of a jawan during routine training activity has taken place in an infantry unit in the Northeast. It is not a case of any mutiny,” the army said in a statement.
It said the soldier complained of chest pain prior to a route march. He was checked by the medical officer and found fit. But the soldier collapsed during the training.
The army said four to five soldiers got emotional when they were being consoled by a senior and “indulged in agitated behaviour leading to minor scuffle”.  It said no one was injured seriously and the incident was being investigated.
With a strong 13 lakh active personnel, Indian Army is one of the most disciplined forces in the world and such an incident is very rare.

Pakistan a ‘duplicitous, dangerous’ partner for US :: New York Times

Underlining that Pakistan’s “double game” has long frustrated US officials, a leading American daily today said the country remains a “duplicitous and dangerous” partner for the US and it was time to “put the squeeze” on it.

“Pakistan’s double game has long frustrated American officials, and it has grown worse. There are now efforts in Washington to exert more pressure on the Pakistan Army,” The New York Times said in a lead editorial today.

In the editorial ‘Time to Put the Squeeze on Pakistan’, the New York Times Editorial Board said nearly 15 years after 9/11, the war in Afghanistan is raging and Pakistan “deserves much of the blame”.

“It remains a duplicitous and dangerous partner for the United States and Afghanistan, despite USD 33 billion in American aid and repeated attempts to reset relations on a more constructive course,” the editorial board wrote, questioning the Pakistan policy of the Obama administration.

Of the view that the key to talks with the Taliban and bringing peace in Afghanistan lies with Pakistan, The New York Times said Pakistan’s powerful army and intelligence services have for years given support to the Taliban and the Haqqani terrorist network and relied on them to protect Pakistani interests in Afghanistan and prevent India from increasing its influence there.

“Under American pressure, the Pakistan Army recently waged a military campaign against the Taliban in the ungoverned border region. But the Haqqanis still operate in relative safety in Pakistan. Some experts say the army has helped engineer the integration of the Haqqanis into the Taliban leadership,” the daily said.

The New York Times praised Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, for putting a hold on the sale of eight F-16s to Pakistan with American tax payers money.

“Mr Corker told The Times he would lift the hold on the aid if Pakistan cracks down on the Haqqani network, which he called the ‘No. 1 threat’ to Afghanistan and American troops there,” the daily said.

However, the daily was of the view that serving ties with Pakistan is not an option given the fast expanding nuclear weapons arsenal of this South Asian country.

The New York Times said the “grim reality presents difficult choices for Mr Obama, who must decide whether to keep the current troop strength and possibly to change the military’s role to fight the Taliban more directly.”


Nuclear Shelter and Electronic Jammers being considered to secure Parliament

Construction of an underground ‘nuclear shelter’ and technological upgrade to ward off possible chemical, radiological or biological attacks are among the security upgrade plans for the Parliament House building that have been set in motion by the NDA government.

The installation of jammers to prevent possible ‘drone attacks’ and procurement of state-of-the-art communications and anti-insurgency equipment constitute part of plans to secure the 89-year-old building from potential ground or aerial attacks. Procurement of chemical-resistant equipment and gas masks is also being planned.

“With drones getting smaller and technologically advanced, there is always scope for improvement in the aerial security of the building,” security sources said.

A host of measures were taken to make the building impregnable after the 2001 attack but in the constantly evolving scenario, the threat perception has changed, they added.

Following recommendations of a Parliament security committee constituted last year by speaker Sumitra Mahajan, a fresh security template involving multiple agencies, including the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), has been worked out. While the speaker has agreed with broad suggestions made by the committee, she has initiated the process of setting up a fresh committee comprising MPs belonging to both houses of the Parliament to oversee the specifics of the security upgrade plans, sources said.

Based on the outcome of a pilot project recently completed by the agencies, a presentation is scheduled to be made this month before the Lok Sabha speaker.

Citing reasons of confidentiality, BJP Lok Sabha member RK Singh, who headed the three-member committee, refused to comment on the matter.


Assam Rifles Cmdt in 3-day police custody

Assam Rifles Cmdt in 3-day police custody
Col Jasjit Singh

Aizawl, May 13

Suspended Commandant of Assam Rifles Col Jasjit Singh, one of the main accused in a case of smuggled gold robbery, was today remanded in police custody for 72 hours by a local court.Singh was arrested on May 5 after eight Assam Rifles personnel, who allegedly waylaid a vehicle on December 14 night on the outskirts of Aizawl and robbed it, claimed they committed the crime at the behest of the Commandant.The Assam Rifles personnel had reportedly decamped with 52 gold bars worth around Rs 14.5 crore, a cellphone and Rs 75,000 in cash after threatening the driver of the vehicle at gunpoint. — PTI


Another Indian Link of AgustaWestland Middleman Christian Michel Traced

Another Indian Link of AgustaWestland Middleman Christian Michel Traced

New Delhi: Another money trail has been traced in the alleged multi-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam. CNN-News18 has learnt that a crystal dealer, Suraj Prakash Mehra, was in regular touch with AgustaWestland middleman Christian Michel.

Mehra was allegedly in touch with Michel and Danish national Christine Spliid when India was finalising the AgustaWestland deal. Documents show that Mehra’s twin children are partners with Christine Spliid and Christian Michel in UK-based company Beetle Nut Home Ltd.

CNN-News18 also tried to track down the names listed on the books of Mehra’s Crystal and Lifestyle. It was found that almost all the addresses of shareholders were completely fake. The company Yogya Infotech which holds 15,000 shares in Crystal and Lifestyle has a bogus address.

Even the company Minarva Buildtech (P) Limited, which holds 25,000 shares in Crystal and Lifestyle, does not exist at the given address.

The home of a minority shareholders Karan Sethi, who is also a director along with Suraj Parkash Mehra in the company, was tracked down. Karan’s father PK Sethi said that came across Christian Michel’s name through TV channels and newspapers. He claimed that Karan is currently in Mumbai.

The address mentioned in the name of Suraj Parkash Mehra was also found locked.